Homes at Menai and Barden Ridge ‘impacted’ by fire

UPDATE 5.45PM

More good news.

The RFS reports that due to easing conditions the fire has been downgraded to Watch & Act. 

Large numbers of firefighters will continue to work into the night to bring the fire under control.

UPDATE 5.15PM

Good news.

New Illawarra Rd has been reopened. 

Please drive carefully as fire crews may be operating off the roadside.

UPDATE 4.30PM

Reports from the NSW Rural Fire Service that the bushfire that has burned through the Sutherland Shire has impacted houses in Menai and Barden Ridge.

Strong winds pushed the flames north and east towards suburban streets this afternoon as 15 firefighting and reconnaissance aircraft joined the operation.

At 4.30pm, RFS spokesman Greg Allan confirmed some houses had been impacted.

"What we don't have information on is the type of damage and number of properties," he said.

UPDATE 4PM

There has been an increase of fire activity across the fire ground.

Residents in Alfords Point and Barden Ridge, to the West of Alfords Point Road, should shelter in place as the fire approaches. It is now too late to leave.

Embers may create spot fires well ahead of the fire front.

Heathcote Road remains closed in both directions from Lucas Heights to Holsworthy between Macarthur Drive and New Illawarra Road.

The road is likely to remain closed until at least Monday, according to the Transport Management Centre, with motorists advised to plan an alternative route for Monday's peak commute.

The T8 Airport and South line is also partially affected, with buses replacing trains in both directions between Glenfield and East Hills.

UPDATE 2PM

Water bombers tackle the bushfire in Alfords Point as fire crews watch and wait.. Picture: AAP

Water bombers tackle the bushfire in Alfords Point as fire crews watch and wait.. Picture: AAP

The NSW Rural Fire Service advises that a community kiosk has been established at Sandy Point Boat ramp.

A second kiosk is being established at Menai Marketplace.

Residents who have been forced to evacuate their homes due to te fire can make use of a Bushfire Evacuation Centre established at Gymea Tradies at 57 Manchester Road, Gymea.

UPDATE 1.30PM

The out of control fire has forced the closure of more roads in Sutherland Shire.

Fire is impacting New Illawarra Road between Bangor Bypass and Menai Road. Road is CLOSED.

Bangor Bypass westbound between Menai Road and New Illawarra Road is also CLOSED.

Heathcote Road between Lucas Heights and Holsworthy remains closed.

The RFS Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, said at 1pm that more than 500 men and women were working on the fire and that damage so far had been limited.

"We could see a deterioration in impact and damage this afternoon given the ferocity of these fires," Mr Fitzsimmons said.

"We still have a very volatile, dynamic and dangerous fire situation.”

Stay up to date on the current fire situation by visiting the RFS website www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or the Fires Near Me app.

UPDATE 1PM

Sandy Point, Illawong, Menai, Bangor (East of Alfords Pt Rd) and Sandy Pt expected to be impacted by ember attack is expected to be impacted by ember attack.

The fire is travelling in a north easterly direction, towards the Georges River near Alfords Point and Menai.

Embers may create spot fires well ahead of the fire front.

Residents in Alfords Point and Barden Ridge, to the West of Alfords Point Road, are being advised to take shelter in their homes as the fire approaches.

It is now too late to leave.

Residents should monitor conditions and take advice from firefighters in the area. Emergency alert messages are being sent to people in the area.

Firefighters are in these areas and are ready to undertake property protection if it is required.

Heathcote Road is now closed between Macarthur Drive and New Illawarra Road.

An evacuation centre has been set up at Gymea Tradies,  57 Manchester Road, Gymea for any residents forced out of their homes by the fire.

Heat from the bushfires is impacting TransGrid’s high voltage lines feeding into Ausgrid’s network, causing voltage dips across the network. Customers may experience short interruptions to power supply.

UPDATE 12PM

• The bushfire has been upgraded to Emergency Warning. Text messages are being sent to residents in the Alfords Point, Barden Ridge and Menai area, advising them to seek shelter.

"Fire fighters are in these areas and are in place to undertake property protection as required," the RFS said.

• Those living in Illawong and Bangor are experiencing ember attack and should watch for any spot fires.

• Water bombing aircraft have moved in to assist with the fire

• There are no reports of any lives lost nor any homes.

UPDATE 11.00AM

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has thanked volunteers and emergency services personnel from all agencies who worked through the night to control the fire and said it wold be “unforgiveable” if the fire was found to be deliberately lit.

“The fire threat is still there,”  Mrs Berejiklian said.

“The wind conditions plus the unusually high temperatures in April have contributed to this but I’m so grateful to all the volunteer workers, RFS and all emergency services personnel from all agencies who have worked through the night to protect life and to protect property.

“I’m so concerned with reports that this fire could’ve been deliberately lit. Of course there will be a full investigation and the community would deem it completely unforgiveable if this fire was deliberately lit”.

EARLIER

Sutherland Shire residents have been warned that bushfire conditions remain “volatile” and are likely to escalate throughout the day as strong winds fan flames and cause ember attacks.

Rural Fire Service  Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the main fire activity remains around the suburbs of Menai, Alfords Point and Sandy Point.

“We have a lot of fire activity, it is a dynamic situation and we are expecting these dry, strong winds to really dominate fire behaviour today and that will pose very real risk to communities in Sutherland Shire,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.

“We do know things are pretty volatile and are likely to escalate throughout the day.

“Firefighters are working very hard at the moment we have more than 500 firefighters out on the fire ground from Fire and Rescue and RFS and all the emergency services working together with that community.”

Unpredictable wind changes forecast for the middle of the day will create the greatest challenge for firefighters.

“We’re talking about 50 to 60 kilometre winds once again moving through that fire ground area today.”

Mr Fitsimmons said residents in the effected areas shoud be enacting their Bushfire Survival Plans.

“They should be knowing what it is they are doing now and knowing and what it is they are going to do if the conditions deteriorate and there is every prospect they will deteriorate throughout today.

The out of control fire has burnt more than 1,000 hecatres of bushland around Holsworthy and Menai (grey area). Picture: NSWRFS

The out of control fire has burnt more than 1,000 hecatres of bushland around Holsworthy and Menai (grey area). Picture: NSWRFS

“Stay abreast of what is going on and be ready to act. Be decisive and take the warnings because we’ll issue them as conditions deteriorate.

“The little things you do now and the hings you do in the event circumstances change could be all the difference in the survival of you, your loved ones and of course your home.”

Last night the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) released a statement on the bushfire emergency saying it was following RFS advice. 

“ANSTO always works with local emergency services, and the Rural Fire Service has advised no risk to ANSTO as a result of the fires in the vicinity of our Lucas Heights campus,” the statement said.

Picture: 9News

Picture: 9News

“ANSTO will continue to take the advice of emergency services throughout the evening and over the weekend.

“As a precautionary measure, the ANSTO Operations Centre has been activated, and is actively monitoring the situation. Non-essential staff have left the site.

“ANSTO infrastructure including the OPAL reactor is protected by numerous fire safety systems, policies, plans and arrangements to ensure there is never any risk to operations or safety.”

Heathcote Road is closed between Macarthur Drive and New Illawarra Road.

National Parks and Wildlife Service advise that Heathcote National Park and the south side of Georges River National Park are closed today, Sunday.

Advice

Put your Bush Fire Survival Plan into action. If you do not have a Bush Fire Survival Plan, know what you will do if the fire threatens your property.

Well prepared and actively defended homes can offer safety during the fire.

Other Information:

  • If your life is at risk, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.
  • Continue to stay up to date with the bush fire situation by checking http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au, listening to your local radio station or by calling the NSW RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.
  • If you live in the area but are away from home, it may not be safe to return to your property.

For information on road closures, check http://livetraffic.rta.nsw.gov.au. Roads may be closed without warning.