Australian military to probe link to bushfire

2013-10-19 17:30
Australian fire-fighter (Picture: AFP)

Australian fire-fighter (Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - The Australian military said on Saturday it was investigating whether a major bushfire was linked to an explosives training exercise, as firefighters battled blazes that have destroyed or damaged 300 homes.

The Rural Fire Service said around 80 fires were burning across New South Wales state, with about 20 of them uncontained despite Saturday's cooler weather conditions.

Among the major fires was one burning between the towns of Lithgow and Bilpin, some 80km northwest of Sydney, which intensified after burning through 30 000 hectares and reportedly destroying some properties.

"This fire is by no means contained," New South Wales Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said.

''It's got absolutely kilometres and kilometres of fire front.''

The Australian Defence Force said it was investigating the circumstances of the fire near Lithgow, which began on defence land.

"The fire started on 16 October, the same day that Defence personnel were conducting an explosive ordnance training activity," it said in a statement.

"Defence is investigating if the two events are linked.

"Our thoughts are with those who have lost property or whose property is threatened by these devastating fires," it added.

Firefighters are battling bushfires across New South Wales, which could take weeks to fully overcome, particularly with more hot and gusty weather forecast for as soon as Sunday.

One man has already died while trying to protect his home on the Central Coast north of Sydney, possibly succumbing to a heart attack, but authorities are hopeful no other people are unaccounted for in the blazes.

The fires took hold in warm and windy conditions on Thursday and the worst affected areas have been in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, where around 193 properties were destroyed and 109 damaged in the towns of Springwood and Winmalee.

Crews were called to protect homes in the Lithgow region later Saturday, and also stepped up efforts in Springwood as that blaze continued to threaten more homes with a small local hospital evacuated as a precaution.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said some of the fires were so big they would take more time to completely extinguish.

"Firefighters will be working on these fires for weeks," he said.

"It's all about reducing the risk of these fires to breach containment lines and run under hotter, drier, windier condition over coming days."

In the meantime, residents were returning to the remains of their homes, searching through the rubble for valuables and keepsakes.

In Lithgow, the scenic tourist attraction the Zig Zag Railway has been hard hit, with trains, carriages and equipment destroyed.

The railway, which runs on the original track built in the 1860s, was soon to be reopened to the public after being closed last year for upgrades.

Read more on:    australia

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.