Tomago, Williamtown, Raymond Terrace and Campvale fire leave residents on edgeTuesday January 16

Erratic fire conditions put residents on edge Picture: Media Response Newcastle
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Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Robert Ward

Photo: Robert Ward

Taken from the Pacific Highway near Grahamstown Dam. Photo: Kathy Pearson, Facebook.

From Stockton Bridge about 4pm. Photo: Samantha Graffham

Elvis the Water Crane flys over Fern Bay. “Took this photo from my front porch. This is the DC 10” – Photo: Margie Gayler

GRASS FIRE: A scene of smoke billowing at the Newcastle Airport. Photo: Brodie Owen

GRASS FIRE: A scene of smoke billowing at the Newcastle Airport. Photo: Brodie Owen

Williamtown Resident John Hill is still shaken after the fire raced past his property on Cabbage Tree Road. File Image.

Cabbage Treet Road residents: Cain and Rhianna Gorfine with their children Bronte and Ryan. Ms Gorfine said her property was coming under ember attack, and flames were already licking at its perimeters. File image: Ryan Osland

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Max-Mason Hubers

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Day two: Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Port Stephens State Emergency Service unit donated 10 slabs of water to firefighters set up in Lakeside, Raymond Terrace today along with an extra four slabs of water and a few bags of sweets that someone had dropped off at the RFS and SES sheds. Picture: Port Stephens SES Unit

Port Stephens State Emergency Service unit donated 10 slabs of water to firefighters set up in Lakeside, Raymond Terrace today along with an extra four slabs of water and a few bags of sweets that someone had dropped off at the RFS and SES sheds. Picture: Port Stephens SES Unit

Port Stephens State Emergency Service unit donated 10 slabs of water to firefighters set up in Lakeside, Raymond Terrace today along with an extra four slabs of water and a few bags of sweets that someone had dropped off at the RFS and SES sheds. Picture: Port Stephens SES Unit

Port Stephens State Emergency Service unit donated 10 slabs of water to firefighters set up in Lakeside, Raymond Terrace today along with an extra four slabs of water and a few bags of sweets that someone had dropped off at the RFS and SES sheds. Picture: Port Stephens SES Unit

Richardson Road about 5pm on Saturday. The road was closed to traffic. Picture: Sherilee Sharpe

Richardson Road about 5pm on Saturday. The road was closed to traffic. Picture: Sherilee Sharpe

Shots of the smoke over Cabbage Tree Road, Williamtown on Saturday. Picture: Jemma Murray

Shots of the smoke over Cabbage Tree Road, Williamtown on Saturday. Picture: Jemma Murray

Shots of the smoke over Cabbage Tree Road, Williamtown on Saturday. Picture: Jemma Murray

Shots of the smoke over Cabbage Tree Road, Williamtown on Saturday. Picture: Jemma Murray

Shots of the smoke over Cabbage Tree Road, Williamtown on Saturday. Picture: Jemma Murray

A water bombing helicopter filling up at Grahamstown Dam on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Shannon Hawkins

A water bombing helicopter filling up at Grahamstown Dam on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Shannon Hawkins

A water bombing helicopter filling up at Grahamstown Dam on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Shannon Hawkins

Grahamstown Dam on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Shannon Hawkins

A water bombing helicopter filling up at Grahamstown Dam on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Shannon Hawkins

Grahamstown Dam on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Shannon Hawkins

Shots of the smoke over Cabbage Tree Road, Williamtown on Saturday. Picture: Jemma Murray

Water bombing chopper at Grahamstown Dam on Saturday. Picture: Adrian Cashen

Richardson Road about 5pm on Saturday. The road was closed to traffic. Picture: Sherilee Sharpe

Richardson Road about 5pm on Saturday. The road was closed to traffic. Picture: Sherilee Sharpe

Port Stephens State Emergency Service unit donated 10 slabs of water to firefighters set up in Lakeside, Raymond Terrace today along with an extra four slabs of water and a few bags of sweets that someone had dropped off at the RFS and SES sheds. Picture: Port Stephens SES Unit

Port Stephens State Emergency Service unit donated 10 slabs of water to firefighters set up in Lakeside, Raymond Terrace today along with an extra four slabs of water and a few bags of sweets that someone had dropped off at the RFS and SES sheds. Picture: Port Stephens SES Unit

Picture: Julie Stevens

Picture: Julie Stevens

Picture: Julie Stevens

The RFS DC-10 banking over Medowie. Photo: Nicki Skinner of Indykai Image

The RFS DC-10 over Medowie. Photo: Nicki Skinner of Indykai Image

Pastures Drive, Medowie during Sunday’s bushfire emergency. Picture: Ben Niland

Pastures Drive, Medowie during Sunday’s bushfire emergency. Picture: Ben Niland

Pastures Drive, Medowie during Sunday’s bushfire emergency. Picture: Ben Niland

Grahamstown Dam, Campvale on Sunday about 1:44pm. Picture: Sarah Gorton

Picture: Media Response Newcastle

Picture: Media Response Newcastle

Picture: Media Response Newcastle

TweetFacebook Tomago, Williamtown, Raymond Terrace and Campvale fire “It just keeps coming back.”

Ruth Lunney was among the Campvale residents who were rattled and exhausted onMonday, as anerratic bushfire continued to burn in nearby scrub, just out of eye-shot.

Ms Lunney haslivedon Wade Close, just north of Richardson Road, for around four decades. While the last fire– in 2013 –was more intense, this one was more unpredictable, she said.

WATCHFUL: Campvale’s Evelyn Reeves and Allan Wright were tense, as the fire burned less than a kilometre away. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

“It went to red alertquite suddenly on Sunday, it was very frightening,” she said.

The fire charged towards Wade Close on Saturday evening, and made another run at homeson Sunday, whipped up by gale-force winds. On both days, Ms Lunney was forced to evacuate to Medowiewith family members and her dogs.

On Monday, most of the stretch was still deserted and blanketed in heavy smoke, as two water-bombing helicopters took turns dousing surrounding bushland.

To the west, patches of grass wereblackened alongthe edge of Grahamstown Dam, while pockets of vegetation back from the roadwerestill smouldering.

Along Richardson Road, several residents spoke of sleepless nights since Saturday, as the fire continuedto burn less than a kilometre away. But all who spoke to theHeraldwere adamant: they would stay and defend.

“I’ve been here all my life …the only time I’ve been away was when I got married for a year-and-a-half,” said Ken Sewell, 65.

The former deputy fire controller spent Monday hosing his gutters and dampening the house down.

“It’s not the value, it’s the memories,” he said. “Mum would have bought here in the ‘40s.”

Another resident, who only wanted to be known as Alison, was preparing to take her husband out for a birthday dinner when the fire escaped containment lines on Saturday.

She was “trembling” onSunday, aswinds of up to 80 kilometres an hour drove the blaze towards her home.

“When you smell smoke and the wind direction is the right way, you know it’s coming for you,” she said.

She was one of a number of residents bewildered by the weather conditions, as temperatures plummetedto the low 20s, but wind gusts pushed hot air from the fire ground over their properties.

“It’s been hot, then it’s cold, then it’s windy, then it’s raining,” she said.

Another neighbour, Evelyn Reeves, praised the efforts of firefighters, who patrolled Richardson Road into the early hours of the morning.An RFS spokesperson said they had been working extremely hard in “trying conditions”.

“They are grateful for the support they’re receiving from the community and their employers,” he said.

SCORCHED: Vegetation near Grahamstown Dam. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Easing winds a reprieve for firies

Firefighters are racing the clock to contain a fire that has razed more than 2300 hectares of bushland at Williamtown, ahead of another burst of heat predicted to arrive on Friday.

Over 130 firefighters spent Monday back-burning near Richardson Road at Campvale and along trails north of Newcastle Airport.

A NSW Rural Fire Service spokesperson said they had “some success” in strengthening containment lines, aided by a dozerand water-bombing aircraft.

“The strength of the wind is a lot less than it has been over the last few days,” he said.“People around the fire-affected area should remain vigilant, with hot temperatures predicted towards the end of the week.”

The fire, which started last Monday,is suspected to have been caused by lightning.

The RFSspokesperson said crews worked hard to gain containment last week, but were hampered by swampy vegetation and gale-force winds that blew in over the weekend.

There have been no reports of property damage.