Big Hill Trail fire rips back to life and burns over 1700 hectares

6.30am, December 7:

The fire continues to burn east of Maria River Road in Limeburners Creek National Park between Port Macquarie and Crescent Head but North Shore residents will be breathing a sigh of relief.

Easing weather conditions have reduced fire activity with crews undertaking backburning operations overnight to strengthen containment lines built by firefighters with the assistance of water bombing aircraft and the air tanker Nancy Bird.

Further strategies will be reassessed Thursday morning.

Photo: Lisa Nicalah Sophiah

Photo: Lisa Nicalah Sophiah

The fire crossed and is burned southeast of Limeburners Creek and reached one kilometre north of North Shore.

Residents in the area of Plomer Rd, Maria River Road and North Shore are advised to follow their bush fire survival plan and take direction from firefighters.

There is a significant amount of smoke visible in the area and over Port Macquarie, which will likely remain during Thursday morning.

8pm, December 6:  A large fire across more than 1700 hectares is burning east of Maria River Road in Limeburners Creek National Park between Port Macquarie and Crescent Head.

The fire erupted on Tuesday at Big Hill Trail, was contained briefly and re-ignited on Wednesday afternoon (December 6).

Westerly winds are now pushing the fire east and is impacting properties on Plomer Road. Residents in this area are advised to shelter in place as the blaze is being brought under control.

Smoke and ash is falling as far west as Wauchope and south over residential regions in Port Macquarie.

The fire has crossed and is burning southeast of Limeburners Creek and is approximately one kilometre north of North Shore.

Crews are positioned at homes in the area.

The large air tanker ‘Nancy Bird’ has assisted firefighters, dropping gel to build containment lines ahead of the fire front north of the North Shore area.

Residents in the area of Plomer Rd, Maria River Road and North Shore are advised to follow their bush fire survival plan and take direction from firefighters.

Advice

A water bombing aircraft over the North Shore. Photo: Michael Walsh.

A water bombing aircraft over the North Shore. Photo: Michael Walsh.

Residents in the Plomer Road area are advised to shelter in place.

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.

Health Warning

Dramatic scenes over North Shore as the Nancy Bird swoops with water. Photo: Liam Bisco

Dramatic scenes over North Shore as the Nancy Bird swoops with water. Photo: Liam Bisco

Smoke particles can cause a variety of health problems, such as itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation, runny nose and illnesses such as bronchitis.

The smoke particles can also aggravate existing lung conditions, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.

Other Information

View over the Port Macquarie canals. Photo: Helen McGee

View over the Port Macquarie canals. Photo: Helen McGee

If your life is at risk, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.

Continue to stay up to date with the bush fire situation by checking 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.

3pm, December 6: 

The Big Hill Trail fire at Crescent Head, which was burning out of control on December 5, has roared back to life and has ripped a trail south towards Port Macquarie’s North Shore.

The NSW RFS tweeted the following advice about 6.30pm:

Smoke and embers have filled the air along the coastline to Port Macquarie with the fire front now consuming more than 1700 hectares from Crescent Head to within two kilometres of the North Shore of Port Macquarie.

Rural Fire Service’s Stuart Robb district officer for the Mid North Coast said the fire reignited under windy conditions but should abate throughout the evening.

North Shore residents are being urged to Watch and Act throughout the evening and monitor the situation via the Fires Near Me app or ABC Radio alerts.

“We have crews and aircraft on scene to help bring it under control. It is the nature of coastal heath to burn quickly as it is wind driven. As the winds drop and conditions abate into the evening the situation should ease,” he said.

“At the moment there is lots of smoke in the air within the vicinity of the fire.”

There are 10 units from the Hastings RFS contingent attending the scene while National Parks and Wildlife assist the Kempsey crews.

Hundreds of people flocked the the Town Beach headland to watch the fire front as it billowed into the sky on Wednesday, December 6. Embers were starting to fall over Settlement Point.

Video by Jacki Jones

On Tuesday morning, the Rural Fire Service issued an Advice alert for the bush fire.

Conditions rapidly changed by the afternoon and the danger level was increased to Watch and Act as the size of the blaze skyrocketed from 10 hectares to over 1000 hectares of burnt bush land.

At around 5pm aircraft arrived on-scene to assist around six ground crews with water bombing.

View of the fire from Port Macquarie. Photo: Tabitha DaBella.

View of the fire from Port Macquarie. Photo: Tabitha DaBella.

Residents at the Goolawah Co-operative village, located near the fire, were assisted by RFS crews and prepared to evacuate.

Goolawah resident Peter O’Hara said residents had their bags ready to go.

“The fire came up from the south and we watched it all day - we were preparing, people were going around doing last minute cleaning up and we have our own little fire truck which we got ready,” Peter said.

“People were on alert and then when the RFS raised the alert level we were getting nervous.

“By early evening the fire had burnt right up to the southern edge of our place so probably a few hundred meters from the first house on our property.

“No one was panicking, but we had our bags packed.”

Rain on Tuesday night helped to ease the blaze which was downgraded to Advice level on the morning of December 6. By lunch time the RFS re-issued an updated Watch and Act alert.