World

Sydney bushfire still out of control and may have been deliberately lit

Sydney bushfire still out of control and may have been deliberately lit

Conditions have eased for a huge bushfire near residential areas in southwest Sydney but firefighters remain on alert because of the risk of high winds and temperatures during the day.

On Sunday morning, authorities had downgraded warnings to a watch and act status.

"How dare anyone - if they are deliberately involved in lighting fires - endanger our firefighters and also [put] all these communities in harm's way", said Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.

"And whilst the threat level has been downgraded to advice. there is still a lot of fire around".

A strike force has been established to investigate the blaze which is believed to have started in Wattle Grove.

A large number of firefighters remain on the ground working to slow the spread of the fire, which continues to burn in a southeasterly direction towards Barden Ridge.

Firefighters worked through the night to backburn areas around Heathcote Road near Pleasure Point, as well as the Holsworthy military base.

On Sunday, more than 500 firefighters in nearly 100 fire trucks, along with 15 aircraft, battled the blaze throughout the day.

Major roads separating bushland and residences were cut off in some areas, and fire services used helicopters to dump water over key points.

"It is absolutely miraculous that we have not lost any lives and virtually no property and this is because of the hard work and dedication and heroism of our fire services", the state's acting Emergency Services Minister Mark Speakman told reporters Monday.




Residents in the suburbs of Voyager Point, Pleasure Point, Sandy Point and Illawong, Menai and Bangor were warned of the danger of ember attacks as many scrambled with hoses and buckets to protect their houses.

One Menai resident, Erin Stevens, left her home yesterday evening.

More than 500 firefighters faced walls of fire, fanned by 70 km/h wind gusts on the city's southern fringe on Sunday and through the night.

"It was pretty scary", he told AAP when finally opening a beer, thankful his house came with sprinklers on the roof.

Police believe the fire may have been lit on goal and are appealing for witnesses to contact them.

NSW RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said two giant aircraft, the DC10 Nancybird and the C130 Hercules "Thor" - normally used for aerial water bombing - were not available to help fight the Sydney fire.

"Still quite a hard day ahead (on Monday)", Rogers told the Nine Network.

"I am not being dismissive of the loss in any way, but the fact is that's the loss we are talking about rather than people's homes being badly damaged or destroyed", he said.

Heathcote Road remains closed between Macarthur Drive and New Illawarra Road, while Old Illawarra Road at Barden Ridge has re-opened.


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