Lake Macquarie community rallies to feed firefighters battling Wangi Wangi bushfire

HELPING HANDS: Wangi Men's Shed preparing meals for around 100 firefighters on Thursday, January 2. The Men's Shed, Wangi Lions and the community has prepared more than 500 meals for firefighters since New Year's Day. Picture: Picture: Chris VanderSchaaf
HELPING HANDS: Wangi Men's Shed preparing meals for around 100 firefighters on Thursday, January 2. The Men's Shed, Wangi Lions and the community has prepared more than 500 meals for firefighters since New Year's Day. Picture: Picture: Chris VanderSchaaf

The Westlakes community has rallied to help feed firefighters battling the Wangi Wangi bushfire which has been ongoing since New Year's Eve.

Wangi Men's Shed and Wangi Lions, boosted by food donations from the Lake Macquarie community, has provided more than 500 meals to firefighters since January 1.

"The crisis is not over [and] firies are required to keep the fire contained," Wangi Lions posted to their Facebook page on Friday morning.

"We will feed between 80 and 100 at lunch today. We have had so many donations of food. Your generosity is amazing.

"Thank you to Wangi Men's Shed members and families, Wangi Lions Club members and families and all of the Westlakes community for your generosity and your show of support.

"We have been inundated with help and food and the firies are really appreciating your donations and your cooking skills."

As of Friday morning, the Wangi fire had burned 414 hectares of bush land. The NSW Rural Fire Service said the fire was "being controlled". The fire is at 'advice' level.

Wangi Road was reopened about 9.30pm on Thursday night, but the RFS has reminded motorists to be vigilant of emergency vehicles and members working in the area.

The blaze began about 11 pm on New Year's Eve. Police said they believed the blaze was sparked by arcing power lines at Wangi Road near Summerhill Drive. The lines are believed to have arced because of high southerly winds.

Dozens of firefighters from at least 10 brigades spending the first hours of 2020 trying to contain the flames in about 30 hectares of bush along the Awaba side of Wangi Road.

At one stage in the early hours of January 1, the fire threatened to jump Wangi Road. Embers blew across the road but were quickly extinguished by crews positioned to prevent spot fires.

ALL HANDS ON DECK: Gosford bulk water refilling Narara 1 Alpha before it went back to help with the Wangi fire on Thursday, January 2. Picture: Picture: Chris VanderSchaaf

ALL HANDS ON DECK: Gosford bulk water refilling Narara 1 Alpha before it went back to help with the Wangi fire on Thursday, January 2. Picture: Picture: Chris VanderSchaaf

The fire was brought under control on Thursday afternoon.

Currently, the fire is still burning near Wangi Wangi, toward Wangi Road and Donnelly Road. Firefighters have conducted backburning to protect properties.

Wangi Men's Shed said it was in need of more volunteers for cooking shifts, food supplies, especially sweet treats such as cakes, water, soft drinks, ice and items such as lip balm for firefighters.

Anyone who would like to donate items can drop them off to Wangi Men's Shed at 22 Donnelly Road, Arcadia Vale or phone president Greg Cross on 0408 621 101.

The Men's Shed said it had been "overwhelmed" by donations from residents and businesses.

Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said the response in helping firefighters had shown great "community spirit and generosity".

"Amazing response from local residents through Wangi Men's Shed, Wangi Lions and community volunteers to look after our emergency services containing the fire between Wangi Road and Awaba," he said.

"Incredible generosity by local residents who have been constantly bringing in food and drinks for the effort.

"Hopefully the fire will be effectively contained today reducing the risk with tomorrow's expected extreme conditions."

Mr Piper also thanked Lake Macquarie City Council for adding extra services to clear bins and clean toilets in the Wangi area.

Monitor the fire through the NSW RFS Fires Near Me website or app. Monitor traffic through the Live Traffic NSW website or app.

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