Bushfire closes Pacific Highway: photos

AN orange glow of flames beneath a thick haze of smoke signified the official start of bushfire season had come a day early.
Nanjing Night Net

Water-bombing helicopters were called in to help more than 15 NSW Rural Fire Service crews battle a blaze at Doyalson on Monday.

The fire, which started near Ruttleys Road, quickly spread through more than 20 hectares of grass and fire during the afternoon, with thick smoke forcing the closure of the Pacific Highway in both directions for several hours.

As traffic was diverted, Rural Fire Service crews worked to get on top of the blaze, which crossed the road north of the Lake Munmorah power station.

Crews began gaining the upper hand as the sun set and conditions eased, employing back burning in an effort to contain the flames.

The blaze was being controlled last night and had spread to more than 20 hectares of grass surrounding the highway.

RFS spokesman Brendan Doyle said no residential properties had come under threat.

The blaze comes just a day before the official start of bushfire season, with the RFS and Hunter Water calling on residents to ensure they are properly prepared for the threat.

NSW has already faced more than 2500 grass and bushfires this year with more than a thousand of those occurring within the last month.

At the official launch of the state’s bushfire season on Monday, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said that weather forecasts had been ‘‘dramatically revised’’ and indicated a tough season ahead.

‘‘We’ve gone from an 85 per cent probability of above average rainfall down to about 35 per cent in some parts of NSW,’’ he told reporters.

Hunter Water CEO Darren Cleary urged residents to ensure their water hydrant was clearly marked so in the event their house was under threat of fire, fire fighters could access the hydrant without delay.

The statutory bush fire danger period runs from 1 October to 31 March.

Helicopters dropping water on a fire at Doyalson on the Pacific Highway as the sun goes down. Picture: Simone De Peak

Firefighters backburning to prevent a bushfire from further spreading at Doyalson on the Pacific Highway as the sun goes down. Picture: Simone De Peak

Firefighters backburning to prevent a bushfire from further spreading at Doyalson on the Pacific Highway as the sun goes down. Picture: Simone De Peak

Firefighters backburning to prevent a bushfire from further spreading at Doyalson on the Pacific Highway as the sun goes down. Picture: Simone De Peak

Firefighters backburning to prevent a bushfire from further spreading at Doyalson on the Pacific Highway as the sun goes down. Picture: Simone De Peak

Helicopters dropping water on a fire at Doyalson on the Pacific Highway as the sun goes down. Picture: Simone De Peak

Helicopters dropping water on a fire at Doyalson on the Pacific Highway as the sun goes down. Picture: Simone De Peak

Smoke from a bushfire at Doyalson on the Pacific Highway as the sun goes down. Picture: Simone De Peak

helicopters dropping water on a fire at Doyalson on the Pacific Highway as the sun goes down. Picture: Simone De Peak

Smoke from a bushfire at Doyalson on the Pacific Highway as the sun goes down. Picture: Simone De Peak

Smoke from a bushfire at Doyalson on the Pacific Highway as the sun goes down. Picture: Simone De Peak

Smoke from a bushfire at Doyalson on the Pacific Highway as the sun goes down. Picture: Simone De Peak

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