A giant erupting fireball has sent fire crews running for their lives as they tackle an out-of-control fire just 75 kilometres southwest of Sydney.
Dramatic and terrifying footage shows crews retreat as a giant wall of flames quickly rises metres above them near Orangeville, to the west of Campbelltown, on Thursday evening.
“Just an example of how quickly bushfires hit,” Fire and Rescue crews from Menai explained on Facebook.
Sydney Morning Herald photographer Nick Moir said the fire “exploded from the bush”, as he shared images of the towering blaze on Twitter.
— Nick Moir (@nampix) December 5, 2019
The fire at Green Wattle Creek was upgraded to an emergency warning on Thursday, with the NSW Rural Fire Service warning late on Thursday that the fire was continuing to spread in an easterly direction towards several communities.
The Rural Fire Service said crews and local residents attacked the fire “head-on” in a bid to save homes as the fire came perilously close.
The fire was later downgraded to a Watch and Act in the early hours of Friday morning.
The Gospers Mountain and Little L Comlpex fire's have now been downgraded to Watch and Act. 6 fires are at Watch and Act, with the remaining 89 at Advice. Crews will work to slow the spread of fire and protect homes where required. #nswrfs pic.twitter.com/7Yk45q5mk0
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) December 5, 2019
The fire was one of seven that was upgraded to emergency warning on Thursday as westerly winds fuelled fires across the state.
Residents in Mangrove Mountain fled as the Three Mile blaze quickly spread.
Crews worked effortlessly throughout the night to limit the damage in the area, with only a number of sheds lost, Nine News reported.
“It’s like ripping your heart out,” resident Joe Galea said, holding back tears.
Nine News reporter Tiffany Genders at Mangrove Mountain said she’d “never seen flames move so fast”.
Earlier on Thursday, three firefighters were airlifted from the Green Wattle Creek fireground after they suffered minor injuries battling the blaze.
Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said while there were no lives lost or injuries reported overnight, several properties across the state had been lost.
He said the fires were "very active" and could return to emergency level during the day as wind increases and warm conditions kick in.
Severe fire danger rating for Friday
By early morning Friday conditions had eased with warnings dropping down to 'watch and act' for the Currowan fire north of Batemans Bay, the Three Mile blaze and the Gospers Mountain at Lithgow and the Little L Complex and Paddock Run fires near Singleton.
Almost the entire coastal area of NSW and much of the state's northeast have a severe fire danger rating for Friday.
Fire crews are working to protect Central Coast homes from the Three Mile Fire, which has been declared an emergency. These photos from the Copacabana Rural Firebrigade show crews protecting a house at Mangrove Mountain. People in the area need to seek shelter, fire‘a moving fast pic.twitter.com/ojLiditaC2
— Lucy Thackray (@LucyThack) December 5, 2019
— Danielle Captain-Webb (@dcaptainwebb) December 5, 2019
Total fire bans will be in place for the far South Coast and the Monaro alpine, southern ranges, Illawarra-Shoalhaven, central ranges, Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, northern slopes and northwestern regions.
There were 97 bushfires burning across the state on Friday morning and less than half were contained.
More than 2000 firefighters remain in the field battling the blazes.
- with AAP
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