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Byron Shire
October 16, 2021

Upper Wilsons Creek fire ‘a timely reminder’

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Water bombing the fire at Upper Wilsons Creek. Photo Michael Balson
Water bombing the fire at Upper Wilsons Creek. Photo Michael Balson

Chris Dobney

[Click to enlarge photos below]

Rural Fire Service (RFS) and National Parks helicopters are continuing to water bomb a bushfire burning in inaccessible terrain in Mount Jerusalem National Park today.

The fire, which has so far burnt out more than 33 hectares at Upper Wilsons Creek, is described as ‘being brought under control’.

An RFS officer at the site of the Upper Wilsons Creek Fire. Photo Michael Balson
An RFS officer at the site of the Upper Wilsons Creek Fire. Photo Michael Balson

RFS north coast co-ordinator, inspector Matt Inwood, said that while no people or properties are currently under threat it is a timely reminder for people living on rural properties to have a bushfire plan and be ready to act on it.

‘The fire, believed to be from a lightning strike, started in inaccessible country near Mount Jerusalem,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘We got the initial reports of the fire on Friday, midway through the day.

‘No properties are under threat at the location. We had RFS crews out their on Friday afternoon – National Parks crews also.’

Ins Inwood said National Parks are now in charge of the fire fighting in the area ‘as it’s predominantly burning into their estate’.

‘It’s come out a little bit into private property now but it started in very steep rocky terrain where it was inaccessible to get crews into,’ he said.

‘There are crews from RFS and National Parks working on it again today, along with three helicopters.

‘RFS crews have spoken to residents on Upper Wilsons Creek Road, adjoining the area where that fire is burning, over the last three-to-four days and that will continue throughout today,’ he said.

The fire burning in Mount Jerusalem National Park at Upper Wilsons Creek by night. Photo Michael Balson
The fire burning in Mount Jerusalem National Park at Upper Wilsons Creek by night. Photo Michael Balson

Resident thanks

Upper Wilsons Creek resident Matt Gillespie, whose property was at one staged threatened by the fire, told Echonetdaily he wanted to thank ‘all the amazing people who made a stressful situation bearable and even at times, enjoyable.

‘To the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Services and the Rural Fire Service, great job, especially thanks to the Wilsons Creek, Federal, Main Arm and Billinudgel Crews that ensured our safety, and the safety of our home,’ he said.

‘Your knowledge, support and reassurances were priceless.

‘A gracious thank you to the awesome community in which I live,’ he added.

Mr Gillespie described ‘the prompt advice in letting us know that there was danger, the continued support throughout and the offers to ensure the protection and safe keeping of our belongings’ as ‘overwhelming’.

Fire continuing to burn in inaccessible terrain in the Upper Wilsons Creek area. Photo Michael Balson
Fire continuing to burn in inaccessible terrain in the Upper Wilsons Creek area. Photo Michael Balson

Fire plan essential

Ins Inwood said there was no need for people in the area to panic or evacuate but they should take a close at their fire plans.

‘It’s a timely reminder for people across the north coast area. We’re experiencing very dry conditions at the moment. Even with the storm activity we’ve seen over the last week, we haven’t any substantial rain with that. Conditions are extremely dry across the area.

‘Of course the problem with storm activity that we see is that we get lightning strikes, and when they start in remote area that’s inaccessible it unfortunately makes those fires very hard to get access to and get crews on the ground to get containment lines around them.

‘It’s a timely reminder to everyone across the north coast to make sure they have their properties prepared.

‘They need to make sure they have a bushfire survival plan in place that includes the options for what they’ll do in preparing their property and what they should be doing if fire is burning in the vicinity or does in fact threaten their property.’

Ins Inwood said a fire at South Ballina, which has been burning for more than two weeks, continues to smoulder underground in peat soil, and the nature of those type of fires is that peat soil can be very deep, the fire gets in underground and it’s difficult to extinguish.’


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