Smoke drifts over parts of Hunter as crews take advantage of conditions for hazard reduction burn at Mount Sugarloaf

THE Mount Sugarloaf recreational area is expected to be closed until at least Friday following a hazard reduction burn.

Some 56 firefighters from the Rural Fire Service and National Parks and Wildlife undertook the controlled burn on Wednesday in the lead-up to summer to help protect vital telecommunications infrastructure.

Smoke was visible from most areas across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie with fire crews expecting to continue the burn until about 5pm.

Lake Macquarie City Council closed the car park, lookout and walking trails near the summit of Mount Sugarloaf on Wednesday.

A council statement said it was expected that the recreational area at Mount Sugarloaf would be closed for a minimum of two days, pending a safety inspection of all affected walking tracks, was expected to reopen on Friday.

People were asked to stay away and postpone visiting the area whilst the burn took place and until it was completed.

It was one of several hazard reduction burns planned for areas across the Hunter in the lead-up to the fire season, including areas around at Lily Hill Road at Nelson Bay all week.

Bushfire experts have predicted a late start to the Hunter’s bushfire season before rising temperatures dry out fuel loads in late summer.

The seasonal predictions, and favourable weather, has allowed planned reduction burns to continue past what is normally the start of the summer bushfire season on October 1.

Further planned burns are listed on