Firebug suspected over bush blaze 

FIERY: The bushfire that threatened homes south of Forster on Friday night.
FIERY: The bushfire that threatened homes south of Forster on Friday night.

POLICE will investigate whether a blaze that erupted in a small pocket of New Lambton Heights bushland was the work of an arsonist suspected of lighting five fires near John Hunter Hospital.

Three fire crews were forced to fight flames near Marshall Street on Friday afternoon after reports that a ‘‘large area of bush’’ had been set alight.

The crews were able to bring the six-hectare blaze under control but not before large plumes of smoke lifted across nearby suburbs.

Authorities said the smoke did not affect the grounds of the John Hunter Hospital.

A Fire and Rescue NSW spokeswoman told the Newcastle Herald police would investigate the cause of the fire. 

On Thursday night, a suspected firebug sparked a series of deliberately lit fires on the Elermore Vale side of the John Hunter Hospital precinct.

Investigators discovered at least five separate ignition points where two major fires combined in bush near Dangerfield Drive.

Fire crews spent several hours mopping up the flames, after the fires were lit about 7pm.

Strike Force Tronto, a specialist police unit created to investigate arsonists, has been informed of the blazes.

Police have called for any information about possible arsonists to be forwarded to Newcastle detectives or Crime Stoppers.

Meanwhile, residents of Green Point, about two kilometres south of Forster, were forced to defend their homes from a large bushfire that closed the only road out of town last night.

NSW RFS crews and six aircraft battled the blaze, which burnt out of control and spread to more than five hectares, for most of the night.

The fire blocked The Lakes Way in both directions between Sweet Pea Road and Green Point Drive for more than six hours.