Rural Fire Service volunteers prevent major explosion during Bucketts Way blaze

The Pindimar-Tea Gardens Rural Fire Service assisted the inter-District strike force battling the Bucketts Way blaze. Photo: Pindimar-Tea Gardens RFS.

BUSHFIRES converged on The Bucketts Way last week, triggering a task force of Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers from across two districts to tackle the blaze over 3, 4 and 5 February.

Two separate fires started in state forest along The Bucketts Way on Saturday 3 February, but with strong winds that night they converged into a singular inferno.

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While Lower Hunter RFS District firefighters had battled the blaze from Saturday morning, a further wind change predicted for Sunday afternoon necessitated a strike team from the Mid-Coast District to form and assist.

“We joined around 200 firefighters, at least 30 vehicles from multiple brigades, coming at it from three different directions,” Pindimar-Tea Gardens RFS Brigade Captain David Bright told NOTA.

“The fire was threatening towards Limeburners Creek; at 6pm Saturday it was 130 hectares, by lunchtime Sunday it was 800ha, ending up around 1000ha.”

“Our brigade was the first to arrive from Mid-Coast.

“We got called to help out a dozer that was fire-breaking, but had become under risk,” Captain Bright recounted.

“We had about three minutes to get in and protect it, also preventing a semi-trailer parked on the road from exploding into a hazardous vehicle-fire.”

Other blacking-out efforts across the four sectors also helped cordon the inferno.

“Although firefighting efforts carried on into Monday, some fortunate rainfall on Tuesday really helped us out.”

Smoke from the Bucketts Way blaze was reported as far away as Newcastle and even Sydney, combining with that from other fires at Shallow Bay, Wallis Lake and Anna Bay and billowing out along the coast.

The Bucketts Way was subsequently closed from 3pm Sunday afternoon, remaining so until Monday morning.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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