Bushfire rages over 140 hectares

A BUSHFIRE at Dudley and Redhead has been contained, with fire crews remaining on site today to mop up and monitor control lines.

Rain this morning helped fire-fighting efforts.

Roads in the area have been reopened.

The blaze in the Awabakal Nature Reserve national park, between Dudley and Redhead, burned throughout yesterday, covering an area of more than 140 hectares.

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NSW Rural Fire Service Lake Macquarie public liaison officer Matt Horwood said crews had a good night last night, working with Fire and Rescue NSW and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

‘‘We were actually able to officially class the fire as being contained overnight,’’ Mr Horwood said.

‘‘It’s within identified containment lines and they were strengthened using backburns where possible.’’

Mr Horwood said weather conditions had helped.

‘‘We’ve had about an hour’s worth of rain .. .early this morning,’’ he said.

Nine fire trucks were on scene this morning and a helicopter will return to the area today as part of patrols.

Resources would be scaled back throughout the day, Mr Horwood said.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

The Newcastle Herald earlier reported that the out-of-control scrub fire covered an area of about 100 hectares late yesterday.

The blaze in the Awabakal Nature Reserve national park, between Dudley and Redhead, broke out early yesterday morning.

It covered about one hectare of land at 8am yesterday before spreading throughout the day.

It closed roads and alarmed property owners. Firefighters door-knocked properties to warn residents to prepare should evacuation be required.

Awestruck onlookers watched as plumes of black smoke filled the sky and helicopters waterbombed the area.

Mr Horwood said yesterday that firefighters were back-burning to help contain the fire.

‘‘They’re directly attacking the fire where they can,’’ he said.

‘‘Some of the fire is in remote and inaccessible areas.’’

Redhead Road from White Cap Close, Redhead, to Ocean Street, Dudley, and Oakdale Road at Bulls Garden Road, Gateshead, were closed yesterday afternoon.

The Rural Fire Service worked with Fire and Rescue NSW.

About 80 personnel and 20 trucks were on location, Mr Horwood said.

He said weather conditions, with a predominantly south-east wind through the day, had been testing, but firefighters were getting the blaze in hand.

People were being advised last night to monitor conditions for any change, activate a bushfire survival plan if required and take direction from firefighters at the scene.

A spokesman said the National Parks and Wildlife Service had crews on site.

Residents said rangers had also patrolled the area around homes.

‘‘The crews will be working through the eve tonight and expect to be on tomorrow as well,’’ the spokesman said.

Dudley resident Meghan McLaren, 18, watched on with her mother Janet as the fire unfolded yesterday.

She said they could see the smoke from their house in Gardner Street.

Miss McLaren said the dramatic scene brought a host of onlookers to her neighbourhood. She said she was not scared but a little shaky.

‘‘Because the  fire  was coming towards my house,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m just standing out at my front door looking at the smoke going ‘geez’.

‘‘My home’s surrounded by bushland.’’

Miss McLaren said if the fire got closer, she and Mrs McLaren were planning to start hosing the property down and taking  precautions.

Daniel Finnegan and his mother Penny, of New Lambton, were on their way to visit Daniel’s aunt, Sue Doran, who lives in Dudley.

‘‘We were pretty close to it,’’ Mr Finnegan said.

‘‘We saw all the smoke.

‘‘We saw helicopters with big bags flying overhead.’’

Mr Finnegan said they were awestruck.

‘‘We could see huge billowing plumes of big, black smoke,’’ he said. ‘‘It seems it’s pretty out of control.’’

Mr Finnegan said his aunt’s property was not under threat.

Fires were also burning in the Upper Hunter yesterday. A one-hectare fire was reported on Bakers Road, Putty, near Singleton. At Dungog, a 100-hectare grass fire was burning around Fosterton Road.

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