RESIDENTS of Wyee, Doyalson and Blue Haven endured an anxious weekend as a massive grass fire burnt through 360 hectares of parched bushland on Saturday afternoon.
No homes or community assets were lost in the blaze thanks to the quick and effective response of dozens of Rural Fire Service and NSW Fire and Rescue crews.
The erratic nature of the grass fire prompted firefighters to back-burn - including along Link Road, the old Pacific Highway, and Wyee Road – to safeguard homes.
Wyee Road was blocked to traffic in both directions.
Police are investigating the cause of the fire, which is still not known.
Some media outlets are reporting that police believe the fire was deliberately lit.
The Rural Fire Service’s district assistant for the Central Coast, Stuart O’Keefe, said the fire was brought under control on Saturday night, although patrols would continue to monitor the site for flare-ups this week.
“But all of the readily combustible fuels were well and truly consumed by fire,” Mr O’Keefe said.
It was unusual to encounter such a ferocious blaze at the start of August, he said. And that was cause for concern coming into the warmer months.
“The fact we have seen an increase in fire activity and intensity due to the dryness of the vegetation indicates that potentially we are going to see an earlier start to the fire season than in previous years,” he said.
If the gaps between significant rainfall events continued to be long, then firefighters could expect an increase in fire activity, he said.
Potentially, we are going to see an earlier start to the fire season than in previous years.- Stuart O'Keefe
Residents who considered themselves to be living in suburbia and therefore immune to bushfires should think again, Mr O’Keefe said.
The appearance of smoke over their roofs, and fire trucks on their roads on Saturday caused many locals to change that view, he said.
“Even though you think you live in suburbia, you should have a bushfire survival plan,” Mr O’Keefe said.
“We see it time and time again when there’s a fire, people say ‘we don’t know what to do’.”
A bushfire survival plan should give residents a clear plan of action to follow in the event that their property is threatened by fire.
It includes answers to such questions as: When will we go? Where will we go? How will we get there? What will we take? And what do we need if we decide to stay?
Visit the Rural Fire Service website, rfs.nsw.gov.au, for a step-by-step guide to devising a bushfire survival plan.