SEVENTY-NINE long, intense, desperate and heartbreaking days after the Gospers Mountain bushfire ignited the massive blaze has finally been brought under control.
The bushfire first started on October 26 as a lightning storm passed across the region, the fire initially was small and burning in very rugged terrain north-east of Lithgow.
Since then extreme weather conditions have fuelled the fire and sent it racing in all directions through drought-stricken bushland.
Ahead of predicted catastrophic bushfire danger weather on November 12, a Section 44 was declared which gave the blaze national disaster status and the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) more resources to deal with the growing emergency.
On December 21 the blaze swept into Lithgow leaving the sky black, with embers igniting spot fires and residents rushing to douse the flames with buckets of water and garden hoses.
It destroyed 17 homes and damaged another eight in the local government area.
As the fire kept growing it also spread across the Hawkesbury, Hunter Valley, Cudgegong, Blue Mountains and Central Coast local government areas.
Finally on Sunday, January 12, 79 days after it ignited, the massive Gospers Mountain bushfire was declared under control. It was now 512,626 hectares in size.
Its perimeter is 1380 kilometres, the equivalent of driving from Sydney to Adelaide.
In charge of it all was RFS Superintendent Karen Hodges who was the incident controller during the emergency and will remain so until the last ember is extinguished.
"It may have been more than 500,000 hectares in size, but once you add in the fires that joined up with it, it was a million hectares," she said.
"There was 2500 to 3000 firefighters across the fireground at any one time when it was at its height."
While the fire might be listed as 'under control' Supt Hodges said there was still a lot of work to be done.
"It's at a state now where it's burning within identified containment lines," she said.
"There will be lots of mopping up for weeks to come."
Residents can still expect to see smoke in the region, as well as burning or smouldering within the containment lines for the next few weeks and people are urged to report any new fire activity to triple-0 immediately.
There is no longer any threat to people or properties near this fire.
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