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Australia NSW 'mega-fire' is on Sydney's doorstep, here's what firefighters are doing about it

06:20  07 december  2019
06:20  07 december  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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  NSW bushfires continue wrath across state, with more homes at risk, smoke danger Fierce bushfires continue to encroach on homes in NSW, as thick smoke blankets Sydney again for the fourth day in a row. © ABC News The fire at Wisemans Ferry is burning very close to properties. At least one home has been engulfed by the Three Mile fire in the Wisemans Ferry area on Sydney's northern outskirts, with other buildings under immediate threat. Firefighters are battling the Three Mile blaze on the north side of the Hawkesbury which continues to intensify.Smoke from the blaze, which is burning across more than 5,800 hectares is billowing across the city.

"I think that firefighters did some incredible saves last night on properties and I think some of the vision has shown that ," he said. Yesterday, firefighters filmed the moment a wall of flames began surrounding them at Orangeville, just 70km from Sydney ' s CBD.

Total fire bans are in place for 10 regions in NSW today, including Greater Sydney , where the fire danger rating is "severe". At one stage last month, emergency warnings were Yesterday, the RFS issued emergency warnings for seven fires , including two threatening areas on Sydney ' s doorstep .

"Worst ever" and "unprecedented" have become the new norm this bushfire season, but when a blaze grows to the size of Sydney a new standard of overwhelming is set and firefighting becomes a logistical headache.

Five blazes merged north of Sydney yesterday and the term "mega-fire" reared its ugly head.

The 60-kilometre fire front continues to consume areas west of Gosford, including Colo Heights, Wollangambe, Mellong, Wollemi and Big Yengo.

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Fires spanned the entire NSW coastline on Friday, with some sparking emergency warnings amid hot and Authorities confirmed three fires had merged into a " mega blaze" north of Sydney on Friday That blaze is about the size of greater Sydney , officials said. "We have also seen the fires coming in

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has issued an emergency warning for the blaze at Gospers Mountain, about 40 kilometres north of Richmond, in Sydney ' s north-west. It said the fire was "fast moving" and spreading quickly amid hot and windy conditions. Crews are fighting the 85,000-hectare

But how exactly does the Rural Fire Service (RFS) fight a fire this big?

a group of people standing in front of a sunset: Crews fight one of the five fires that merged near Mangrove Mountain. (Facebook: Copacabana Rural Fire Brigade) © Provided by ABC NEWS Crews fight one of the five fires that merged near Mangrove Mountain. (Facebook: Copacabana Rural Fire Brigade)

Unchartered territory

This 250,000 hectare blaze has presented new challenges for the RFS and different approaches must be taken, according to public liaison officer Stuart O'Keefe.

"This is all relatively new, but based on smaller files we just need to expand our thinking to a degree," he said.

The RFS maintains they are up to the challenge and extensive consultation, smart rostering and forward planning are paramount.

But put simply, there is no chance firefighting resources can match the scale of this fire, and to do so every firefighter in the state would have to be deployed to the area.

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New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) deputy commissioner NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged residents to remain vigilant. “We have seen the fire is coming to very Yesterday, the RFS issued emergency warnings for seven fires , including two threatening areas on Sydney ’ s doorstep .

Smoky haze blankets Sydney as bushfires rage Jump to media player People in Sydney woke up to a city shrouded in smoke on Tuesday, as bushfires rage across the region. Authorities warned they could not contain the blaze as more than eight fires joined together to form a " mega fire ".

And with nearly 100 fires burning across the state that is an impossible ask.

The tactics

The sheer magnitude of this fire does not dramatically alter the type of firefighting techniques used.

"It's no different if it's one hectare or 260,000 hectares when it comes to strategies," Mr O'Keefe said.

Water is still king, but it's a drop in the ocean on this scale.

Crews can only get 30 to 60 metres away from a truck, so the impact is minimal.

"Then you need another truck, and another, and another. And with so many fires, the demand for trucks can't be met," he said.

So building containment lines with bulldozers can be more reliable.

But this means heavy machinery has to be sourced from the local communities, which takes up precious time as nothing is "just around the corner" in this rugged, remote area.

Aerial firefighting bought some time, but Mr O'Keefe emphasised that retardant did not extinguish a fire — just slowed it.

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NSW fires a sobering wake-up call ahead of horrific fire season: NSW Premier. Several Australian bushfires have combined to form a " mega fire " that is burning out of control across a swathe "There is just fire that whole way" said Rogers, who added that firefighters could do little more than get any

More than 130 bushfires continue to burn, with three people dead and 150 properties destroyed, and conditions set to worsen.

Pictures: Bushfires rage across NSW

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: General view of a destroyed home following bushfire damage on November 13, 2019 in Rainbow Flat, Australia. Catastrophic fire conditions - the highest possible level of bushfire danger - have eased across greater Sydney, Illawarra and Hunter areas thanks to a slight cool change, however dozens of bushfires are still burning. A state of emergency, as declared by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday, is still in effect, giving emergency powers to Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and prohibiting fires across the state. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

The ultimate question: how long?

Today easing conditions have provided some firefighting relief and allowed for a concentrated effort on backburning.

But it's a see-saw, with conditions set to worsen again next Tuesday.

"Peoples' emotions are very, very tested and frail at the moment," he said.

Basically, it could get better just to get worse, and it is anyone's guess when this fire stops growing.

That's bad news for those on the Central Coast and in Sydney who are being choked by smoke from these blazes.

There was realistically only one remedy, Mr O'Keefe said, and it had nothing to do with tactics.

"We need flooding rain to put these fires out. That's really what is going to stop it."

RFS says backburning near NSW 'mega fire' destroyed up to 20 structures .
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) says a fire which destroyed up to 20 structures west of Sydney was started by a backburning operation. The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) says a fire which destroyed up to 20 structures west of Sydney was start Fire crews lost control of the backburn to the south of the Gospers Mountain "mega-fire" yesterday afternoon, impacting properties around Mount Irvine, Mount Wilson and Mount Tomah.

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