A HOME was destroyed, seven firefighters injured and thousands of residents and school students evacuated yesterday as NSW was ravaged by 63 blazes – prompting warnings of a horror bushfire season ahead.
Just 10 days into spring, Sydney’s western suburbs, its northern fringes and the Blue Mountains were wrapped in thick smoke as firefronts raged.
Nutt Road Londonderry ablaze last night / Picture: Stephen Cooper
Winds gusting to 70km/h fanned the flames which were sparked by record September temperatures of more than 32C – 12 degrees above the average.
The conditions were eased by a cool change which swept across the city’s west in the early evening.
Intense flames rage adjecent to Blacktown Road as firefighters try to contain the blaze. Picture courtesy Channel 9
Jeff Caffyn runs to protect his house in Garfield Rd Marsden Park / Picture: Stephen Cooper
Firefighters battle a blaze in Bligh Park. Picture: Rogers Phil
A home was destroyed in a 10ha grassfire near Grange Ave at Marsden Park, in the western suburbs, which was being fought by 70 firefighters.
There were reports a fire truck had been destroyed as 150 crew members, using 30 appliances, battled a major grassfire at Castlereagh and Londonderry on the city’s northern borders.
More than 3000 homes in the Richmond and Londonderry areas lost electricity as a result of the fires.
There were also reports a fish farm had been destroyed at South Windsor.
RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said having so many fires in such a concentrated area around Sydney’s greater west was a challenge.
Picture: Stephen Cooper
A children’s cubby house and play set are choked by smoke in Bligh Park. Picture: Phil Rogers
Large fires also burned at Cessnock, Wyong, Bathurst, the Snowy Mountains, the Bega Valley on the south coast and the Clarence Valley on the north coast.
In Winmalee, in the Blue Mountains, some residents rushed to pack belongings while others brought out deck chairs to watch the clouds of smoke.
Police went door-to-door and the RFS told residents to evacuate as the fire erupted late yesterday morning.
There are fears yesterday’s infernos are a sign of things to come after an unseasonably dry winter.
Sue Marshal in Marsden Park off Garfield Rd / Picture: Stephen Cooper
Concerned residents fear for their properties in Londonderry as the fires move closer.
The bushfire Bligh Park / Picture: Dwayne Elix
NSW Fire Commissioner Greg Mullins, Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and Police and Emergency Services minister Mike Gallacher last night visited crews in the Blue Mountains.
Mr Mullins said: “We hope this is not a portent of things to come.”
He said a wind change was sending the fire toward Hawkesbury Heights.
“It is a big body of fire that is going to take days to bring under control,”RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said: “This is not good news for the next three months and is not a good sign for summer.
“The fact we have had the hottest start ever to spring is a big concern.
“We have a situation where a lot of the vegetation is already dry and if you add continuing dry weather, then days of hot weather with strong winds and you have a very worrying situation.”
“Today should serve as a wake-up call to everyone – you must be prepared for bushfires before they are on your doorstep.”
View of Londonderry fires from Bowen Mountain. Picture: Duncan Media
Fire burns out of control in the Windsor Downs Nature Reserve.
A large bushfire moves into Londonderry.
Walter Markowski, 67, lives on Devlin Rd, Castlereagh, and spotted the flames about 1km from his property.
“I got an old tank of water from the roof and started putting out spot fires,” he said. “The wind was changing quite rapidly. It was a whirlwind going back and forward.
“I put a spot fire out from the roof of my work shed. My home is all right.
“The wind was like a tornado and it kept changing the fire all the time.”
Neighbour Jason Laurence rounded up his racing dogs as the fire approached.
“I have 12 dogs and I had to decide which ones to save. Luckily my mate came around with an eight-dog trailer and put eight in the trailer and four in my car and got out of there,” he said.
A man waters down his roof in Windsor Downs / Picture: Stephen Cooper
Devlin St Londonderry / Picture: Stephen Cooper
A bushfire burns out of control at Marsden Park
Bushfire in the Bligh Park area. Picture: Phil Rogers
Bushfire at Marsden Park.
Fire picture from tweeted by journalist Lizzie Pearl at Castlereagh
A fish farm is destroyed by fire at South Windsor
Aerial pictures courtesy of Channel 9 above Castlereagh
Bush fire in the Bligh Park area / Picture: Phil Rogers
Premier Barry O’Farrell told parliament yesterday that at one point there were 59 bush and grass fires blazing in NSW, 40 of them uncontained.
Mr O’Farrell said more than 500 firefighters and 200 appliances are responding to the fires across NSW. Two aircraft dropped water at Winmalee and another two were doing their vital work at Castlereagh yesterday.
At Londonderry, where students from the public school were evacuated to the Penrith regatta centre, anxious residents were told to leave their homes. Some huddled at a petrol station as they waited to hear if their properties were safe.
The smell of bushfire smoke was wafting across Sydney’s CBD.
Yashmin Narsamma said: “The coppers are at the front gates evacuating everybody. I’ve got horses, dogs, cats, kids in there.
Sonia Kovacek added: “I wanted to stay, I wanted to protect my cows.
Resident Kate Alexander opted to remain at her home. The farm owner did not know if her cattle, horse and sheep were safe. Ms Kovacek said a bushfire threatened a similar area three years ago and called for more back burning over the winter.
A burnt out shed in Castlereagh. A grass fire is stalking homes near Devlin Road. Pic: Channel 9
Aerial pictures courtesy of Channel 9 above the Castlereagh blaze
Pictures of the Castlereagh fire from the Channel 7 news chopper