Bushfires still a threat against suburbs in Australia - Fire started deliberately
The New South Wales rural fire chief has described the suspected deliberate starting of the Holsworthy fire as “sickening and reprehensible”, while urging residents in south-western suburbs of Sydney to remain vigilant despite easing conditions, reports The Guardian Australia.
“It is sickening and reprehensible,” Fitzsimmons said. “How dare anyone in society think that they can deliberately light a fire, endangering first and foremost all of these men and women, the vast majority of whom are volunteers, putting their lives on the line to bring these fires under control.”
Police have set up a strike force to investigate the bushfire that tore through vast areas of bushland and threatened homes on the weekend.
The strong winds that fanned the fire on Sunday eased on Monday, allowing authorities to downgrade the alert level to “advice” and tell residents it was safe to return home.
Wind gusts had reached up to 70km/h on Sunday, and dry conditions combined with “unprecedented” early autumn temperatures to create a high-risk environment.
Firefighters worked through the night, conducting tactical back-burning, particularly around the fire’s northern and south-western fronts, and patrolling streets for flare-ups and floating embers. Resources were scaled down significantly from about 500 firefighters on Sunday to about 250 on Monday.
The fire was still not contained on Monday morning, and authorities were urging residents to remain vigilant, particularly with winds forecast to pick up again on Monday afternoon.
The Rural Fire Service assistant commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, said evidence suggested the fire was deliberately lit.
The fire is thought to have started near Leacocks reserve in Casula, and had spread over 2,500 hectares by late Sunday.