Residents advised to take shelter as firefighters battle blaze near Newcastle Airport

Masonite Rd Tomago bushfire. Pic shows firefighting at Kane & Rhianna Gorfine’s house on Cabbage Tree Rd. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers MMH Masonite Rd Tomago bushfire. Pic shows RFS volunteer firefighters working on a section of burning grass behind houses on Cabbage Tree Rd. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers MMH

Firefighters are working to control a bushfire near Newcastle which has burnt 1381 hectares of land and which was moving east along Cabbage Tree Road towards Newcastle Airport on Saturday afternoon.

The NSW Rural Fire Service issued an emergency warning on Saturday for the bushfire in the Tomago and Williamtown areas, with affected residents being advised to shelter in place as they were told it was too late to leave.

Just before 3pm the fire had reached Barrie Close in Williamtown, west of Newcastle Airport.

By late afternoon a strong southerly had change moved across the area, causing the blaze to move north, away from Cabbage Tree Road and towards Richardson Road.

Conditions continued to ease over the evening and the alert level was downgraded to “advice” level, with firefighters to remain on scene overnight.

Residents in Barrie Close, Cabbage Tree Road, Massonite Road, Williamtown Drive, Technology Place, Kindler Way, Cresswell Way, Slades Road, Sandeman Street and Moxey Close, Benjamin Lee Drive, and Richardson Road should continue to monitor the situation and listen to advice from firefighters on the ground.

Newcastle Airport advised on Saturday afternoon that the bushfire had forced “the closure of the Williamtown airfield to all flights until further notice” on its Facebook page.

The “terminal and related air space” remained closed on Saturday evening, the airport wrote, with passengers encouraged to contact the airline direct for information.???

???Crews from the NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire & Rescue NSW worked to control the fire, with aircraft assisting firefighters on the ground and the DC-10 firefighting aircraft known as ‘Nancy Bird’ on scene.

Rhianna Gorfine and her husband Cain, who live on Cabbage Tree Road, are among local home-owners fighting to save their properties from the fire.

Ms Gorfine told Fairfax Media her property was coming under ember attack, with flames already licking at its perimeters on Saturday afternoon.

“We’ve got flames down the back and up the sides of our property,” she said.

“We’ve got a fire truck up the back, one in the front yard and an Elvis helicopter just dumped a load of water from above.”

Another resident of Cabbage Tree Road, John Hill, said the fire had raced past his property around 3pm.

“It went though about 50 miles an hour, I reckon,” Mr Hill told Fairfax Media.

“It just took off. It was unbelievable.”

The NSW Rural Fire Service has advised that “under these conditions, fires can be difficult to control”.

“Embers may be blown ahead of the fire, creating spot fires. These spot fires may threaten your home earlier than the predicted main fire front.”

Roads in the area have been reopened after closures to sections of Cabbage Tree Road, Massonite Road and Richardson Road earlier in the day, though residents should be careful as firefighters may be working in the area.

with Newcastle Herald /**/