Large bushfire burns near homes on Sydney outskirts

Authorities said it was
Authorities said it was "miraculous" no-one had been hurt in the blaze | © Fire & Rescue NSW/AFP | FIRE & RESCUE NSW

Sydney (AFP) | 16 April 2018 3:03

New South Wales state police are investigating the cause of the bushfire in south-western Sydney, which started on Saturday afternoon amid unseasonably warm autumn weather and strong winds, with suspicions it was deliberately lit.

The blaze has burnt through more than 2,430 hectares (6,005 acres) so far, with some locals evacuated from their homes.

Firefighters have worked to bring the Sydney blaze under control after weather conditions eased on Monday
Firefighters have worked to bring the Sydney blaze under control after weather conditions eased on Monday | © AFP |

Despite the fire’s size and its proximity to several suburbs, with some locals evacuated from their homes, no properties were known to be lost, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said.

“It is absolutely miraculous that we have not lost any lives and virtually no property and this is because of the hard work and dedication and heroism of our fire services,” the state’s acting Emergency Services Minister Mark Speakman told reporters Monday.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the only damage reports were of fences and a children’s playhouse caught in the fire’s advance.

Fire chiefs said a dry summer and unseasonably hot autumn had contributed to the magnitude of the blaze
Fire chiefs said a dry summer and unseasonably hot autumn had contributed to the magnitude of the blaze | © AFP | CARLOS COUTINHO

Conditions had improved Monday as winds eased, with firefighters working to slow the spread of the flames. They also conducted controlled burns overnight to clear land that could be combustible.

Fitzsimmons said it would be “sickening and reprehensible” if the fire was discovered to have been arson.

He added that a variety of conditions, including a dry summer, contributed to the magnitude of the blaze.

“When you add on to that the unseasonably hot couple of weeks we came into autumn and into the month of April, we were talking about temperatures well and truly in the 30s (degrees Celsius), which were unprecedented,” Fitzsimmons said.

© 2018 AFP

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