April 18, 2024
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By Catherine Naylor

On Wednesday, a Sydney primary school evacuated 200 pupils as the fast-moving fire threatened properties in the urban fringe of the city. This was the third grassfire to occur within four days.

After a fire started about a mile away, and began to burn towards Orchard Hills Public School around 2pm, staff were instructed to evacuate students. They then had to shelter with their children at one stage.

The Department of Education spokesperson said that parents were instructed to pick up their children as soon as the order for evacuation was issued. All remaining students and teachers were then taken to Kingswood High School, which is located nearby.

Rural Fire Service reported that 125 firefighters, including professional and volunteer firemen, with 30 trucks along with an water-bombing chopper, managed to bring the fire under controlled at 3.30pm.

The fire was the third to pose a threat in Sydney, following a fire at Ingleburn Sunday night and one at Wallacia Monday evening.

RFS spokesperson Victoria Quested stated that it is a timely reminder for Sydneysiders preparing their property and bushfire survival plan.

Residents of the Northern Beaches and the Sutherland Shire in the Blue Mountains, as well as those who reside on Sydney’s outskirts should be particularly aware of the risks.

There are some areas in Sydney which did not burn during 2019-2020. These are places of concern as we head into the summer.

After three wet and very long years in the state, fuel load is high, with vegetation growing fast, especially grass.

Four firefighters in the north of the state required treatment on early Wednesday morning after the fire truck they were using to fight a blaze near the Queensland boundary rolled. The fires on Tuesday destroyed at least one home, and fire crews are still assessing damage.

RFS Inspector Ben Shepherd was relieved that the firefighters had avoided serious injury after their firetruck rolled on the New England Highway in Jennings at about 4am.

Shepherd reported that three firefighters had minor injuries and were hospitalized. Shepherd said that it was great to hear they were all okay.

Crews from the NSW Fire Service spent much of Wednesday inspecting property damages in the north. Quested reported that at least two houses were damaged and one destroyed by a fire in Tabulum east of Tenterfield on Tuesday.

It would take several days for the damage to be assessed. She added that the assessors were required to examine “multiple fire areas” in order to accurately determine the extent of the damages. On Tuesday, 10 fires across the State reached the level of emergency, with seven of them within a radius of 20 kilometres of Tenterfield.

Tenterfield, a town with about 4000 residents located just 15 km south of Queensland’s border, was inundated by fires Tuesday evening and afternoon. Flying embers started spot fires within the city itself throughout the night.

As of 7pm, all fires were downgraded from “serious” to “advice”.

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