Fire threat downgraded to ‘Watch and Act’

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

The bushfire emergency which threatened lives and property at Menai, Alfords Point and Barden Ridge has been downgraded to “Watch and Act”.

At 5.30pm, the NSW Rural Fire Service said that due to easing conditions the fire threat had been downgraded.

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

Strong winds are expected again tomorrow so there is potential for the emergency threat to escalate once again.

More than 500 firefighters have been on the fire ground throughout the day battling the blaze which began yesterday at Casula and burnt more than 2,500 hectares of bushland around Holsworthy and Menai.

New Illawarra Rd has been reopened but Heathcote Road remains closed between New Illawarra Road at Lucas Heights and Macarthur Drive at Holsworthy.

The road is expected to remain closed until Tuesday to allow cleanup and repairs to road infrastructure.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area and plan ahead for tomorrow morning’s peak.

The RFS has reported that the bushfire has impacted houses in Menai and Barden Ridge but there are few details at this time.

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.

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

Aerial assault on the fires around Menai. Picture: David Duffy

Aerial assault on the fires around Menai. Picture: David Duffy

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) at Lucas Heights will be closed tomorrow to all non-essential staff.

ANSTO released a statement late today saying there was no risk to ANSTO as a result of fires near the precinct  but the organisation decided to help minimise traffic impacts in the area.