Emergency services thanked as investigation into cause of fire launched

The tremendous efforts by firefighters was praised at Menai on Monday, as the community reels from the weekend’s bushfires.

At a press conference, Attorney General and Acting Minister for Emergency Services Minister and MP for Cronulla Mark Speakman said it was “absolutely miraculous” no lives were lost.

“This because of the hard work, dedication and heroism of our fire services,” he said.

“Can I express the incredible gratitude for the incredible work our firies and other emergency services workers have done over the last couple of days.

“I can’t thank enough everyone for the hard work, sweat and tears of firefighters and all emergency services workers in the face of walls of fire, putting out spot fires, putting out embers and keeping our community safe.

“It is not that often that you can have a fire so huge, so close to the Sydney metropolitan area and I thank the local community for their co-operation with emergency services workers in making sure these operations are run as smoothly as possible.”

The fire ignited just before 3pm on Saturday when emergency services responded to an out of control grass fire near Casula railway station.

NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says he is sickened that the fire may have been deliberately lit.

“It’s absolutely reprehensible and a very serious offence,” he said.

“How dare anyone think they can deliberately light a fire endanger all these men and women the vast majority of whom are volunteers putting their life on the line.”

Mr Fitzsimmons said the community was not out of danger yet. 

“Right now we have still not contained this fire - there’s still a lot of work to do,” he said.

“At this stage we don’t have any threat to any particular homes or any particular community but it still remains a very active fire ground to the west of Alfords Point.

“We went from more than 500 firefighters yesterday and last night, we’re now down to just on 250 firefighters but if we need to that will scale up again today.”

He praised the community for acting fast.

“Whether that’s actively defending and dealing with ember showers and ember storms or indeed those people who consciously made a decision to leave early when they knew the prospect of this fire coming nearby,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.

“The collective effort of the community working with the fire emergency services goes a long way  to the results we’ve seen with no significant damage or loss of homes and importantly no serious injury or loss of life.”

Acting Superintendent Paul Albury, Liverpool City Police Area Commander says the matter is being investigated by the State Crime arson squad under Strike Force Carpi.

“The area where we believe the fire commenced has been forensically examined,” he said.

“We have taken a number of statements from people who called the police and fire services.

“We have canvassed CCTV footage.

“It’s early stages of this investigation we anticipate a comprehensive investigation over several months.”