Wattle Flat fire under control

FIREFIGHTERS worked non-stop throughout Friday night and over the weekend to strengthen containment lines around a fire burning near Wattle Flat.

The blaze, which started just after 2pm on Friday, has burnt through around 93 hectares of crown reserve land around one kilometre north-west of Wattle Flat.

Superintendent Tom Shirt from Chifley/Lithgow Rural Fire Service said more than 70 firefighters and eight aircraft worked throughout Friday afternoon to contain the blaze.

“We were working with aircraft on Friday afternoon, as well as heavy plant equipment like bulldozers, to put in good containment lines,” he said.

“On Friday night we planned to do a fair bit of backburning, but we were able to get close enough into the fire with the containment lines.”

Superintendent Shirt said crews worked all day Saturday to strengthen containment lines.

“Crews worked until quite late in the night and then we had patrols overnight,” he said.

Superintendent Shirt added there were still six aircraft and around 45 firefighters working on the blaze yesterday.

He said a helicopter using a “forward-looking infrared” camera was being used to pinpoint any hot spots close to containment lines and the interior of the fireground.

Superintendent Shirt said firefighters also brought two other blazes in that region under control on Friday afternoon.

One fire was five kilometres north of Peel, the other at Wiagdon around five kilometres south of Wattle Flat.

Superintendent  Shirt said the cause of all three fires was under investigation and asked that anyone with information about the blazes contact Bathurst Police.

He said three community meetings were held with Wattle Flat residents over the past three days.

“I went out there Saturday and the residents were fine. They have a very close community with strong ties to their local brigade,” he said.

Superintendent Shirt said other fires at Dogs Rock Forest, Redbank, Hell’s Hole and Winburndale were under control and at patrol stage.

Superintendent Shirt said local crews had been assisted by strike teams from Sydney, who were already fighting other blazes within the region.

“They were redeployed from other fires to Wattle Flat,” he said. “We had been briefing them about the Redbank fire when the Wattle Flat fire flared up.

“They all worked through Friday night and returned home on Saturday.

“However, there is still a bit of work to be done at Hell’s Hole. National Parks are using remote area firefighters in the south-western corner of the fire.”

Superintendent  Shirt said that as all fires were under control the RFS was planning to invoke Section 44, which means fires will be treated by local resources, not as part of a state operation.

“We will continue to work on the Wattle Flat fire,” he said.

“But the other major fires that have been burning can now be managed locally by National Parks and Wildlife Services and the Forestry Corporation.”

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