Tuesday 12 December: After ripping through more than 10,000 hectares of bush land, threatening properties, drowning local areas in thick smoke and putting fire fighters to the test, the Big Hill Trail blaze has finally been brought under control.
The fire, which was attended to by the Rural Fire Service last Tuesday, has had many locals in Crescent Head, Big Hill, Hat Head and Port Macquarie on alert all week. For some residents the fire, the blaze came within metres of their property while locals areas experienced falling ash and heavy smoke.
Take a look at the below coverage for how the fire event unfolded.
Friday, 10am: The Big Trail fire burning in Limeburners Creek National Park north of Port Macquarie and south of Crescent Head is currently on Advice level with fire crews from across the Mid North Coast attending to the blaze which has now reached 8295 hectares in size.
Fire crews from NSW RFS and NPWS will be working on the Big Hill fire again today to strengthen containment lines ahead of the southerly change due late this afternoon. There will be significant smoke in the area and residents are reminded to stay up to date with the current fire situation at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or by downloading the #firesnearmeapp for their smart phone. Further updates will be provided throughout the day.
With more favourable conditions overnight, firefighters were able to continue backburning operations. This will continue today with a focus on strengthening containment lines ahead of an expected southerly wind change later this afternoon.
Residents in the vicinity of Maria River Rd, Tarcoola Rd, Plomer Rd, Riverside Dr, North Shore, Blackmans Point, Fernbank Creek, The Hatch and Illa Langi are advised to monitor the situation and conditions due to an increase in fire activity. Residents in these areas are also likely to experience ash and possible embers.
There is no immediate threat to homes however, residents are advised to follow their bush fire survival plan and take direction from firefighters in the area.
Maria River Rd is closed between Crescent Head Rd and Shoreline Dr. The M1 Pacific Highway is open however smoke is drifting across the road in the vicinity of Telegraph Point.
Smoke produced by the fire and backburning will be visible throughout today and smoke is likely to be seen across parts of the Mid North Coast throughout today.
Please only report new unattended fires, not just sighting of smoke in this area, to Triple Zero (000).
Thursday, 4pm: The Big Hill Trail fire burning in the Limeburners Creek National Park between Crescent Head and Port Macquarie, which was this morning downgraded to Advice level, has flared up yet again with a Watch and Act alert being issued this afternoon. The status of the fire is ‘being controlled’ by firefighters with no immediate danger to properties however Point Plomer and Maria River roads have been closed and residents are being advised to “follow their fire survival plans”.
The Rural Fire Service has advised that the fire is burning east of Maria River Road in Limeburners Creek National Park between Port Macquarie and Crescent Head.
Residents in the vicinity of Maria River Road, particularly to the west of Maria River Road, are advised to monitor the situation and conditions due to an increase in fire activity.
There is no immediate danger to homes however, residents are advised to follow their bush fire survival plan and take direction from firefighters in the area.
Residents are advised to avoid the Point Plomer area due to current fire activity and firefighting operations.
Crews will undertake a 15km backburn today, weather permitting, along Maria River Road and people are asked to avoid this area.
Residents in the area of Plomer Rd, Maria River Road and North Shore are advised to follow their bush fire survival plan and take direction from firefighters.
Due to fire activity and backburning operations, there will be a significant amount of smoke visible in the area and over Port Macquarie today.
Residents to in the vicinity of Maria River Road, particularly to the west of Maria River Road, are advised to monitor the situation and conditions due to an increase in fire activity.
There is no immediate to homes however, residents are advised to follow their bush fire survival plan and take direction from firefighters in the area.
Please avoid the areas of Maria River Road and Point Plomer.
Residents in the area are advised to follow their bush fire survival plan and follow the direction of firefighters in the area.
Well prepared and actively defended homes can offer safety during a fire.
Smoke from bush fires can affect some people more than others.
NSW Health reminds people that children, older adults and people with heart and lung conditions are most susceptible to the effects of air pollution and excessive smoke.
If you have asthma or a lung condition, reduce outdoor activities if smoke levels are high and if shortness of breath or coughing develops, take your reliever medicine or seek medical advice.
Asthma sufferers need to follow their Asthma Action Plan and take their relieving medication where necessary. If symptoms get worse, seek medical advice. Further advice is available from the Asthma Foundation website.
Here are some tips to stay safe when smoke is in the area:
- Keep doors and windows closed to prevent smoke from entering your home.
- Remove washing from clotheslines.
- Ensure pets have a protected area.
- If you’re driving through a smoky area, slow down, keep your windows up and turn your headlights on.
- Don’t call Triple Zero just to report that it’s smoky. Save Triple Zero for emergencies.
Tuesday: The Rural Fire Service attended to the fire on Tuesday afternoon when the blaze was just 10 hectares in size and on Advice level.
However, on Wednesday afternoon, strong winds and dry bush aggravated the blaze which began to threaten properties on Plomer Road. The danger level increased again to Watch and Act as the RFS urged locals to follow their bush fire survival plans.
Firefighters and aircraft water bombers worked through the night and, with the help of easing weather conditions, managed to bring the blaze under control again. The fire has been downgraded to Advice level with a significant amount of smoke visible.
Wednesday: On Wednesday night, the blaze was brought under control however has increased in size from 1782 hectares to 3642 hectares.
Wednesday night/Thursday morning: Easing weather conditions in the late afternoon on Wednesday reduced the fire’s activity and crews conducted back burning operations to strengthen containment lines with the assistance of the Very Large Air Tanker.
Thursday afternoon: Fire upgraded to Watch and Act, ‘being controlled’ by fire crew.
Friday morning: Fire downgraded to Advice level. Roads closed and heavy smoke affecting properties.
Port Macquarie residents reported substantial levels of ash falling on properties with a significant amount of smoke affecting the area.
Locals living in the Goolawah Co-operative near Big Hill Trail had their bags packed ready to evacuate as firefighters battled the blaze located just 100 meters from the Co-operative’s property.
From the residents
Speaking to the Argus, Goolawah resident Peter O’Hara said residents had their bags ready to go.
“The fire came up from the south and we watched it all day - we were preparing, people were going around doing last minute cleaning up and we have our own little fire truck which we got ready.
“People were on alert and then when the RFS raised the alert level we were getting nervous.
“By early evening the fire had burnt right up to the southern edge of our place so probably a few hundred meters from the first house on our property
“No one was panicking, but we had our bags packed. Now it's flaring up again, we're watching what the wind is doing!”