Winds create fire mayhem near airport, on second day of Tomago and Williamtown 2018 bushfires

Winds create fire mayhem near airport EERIE: A smoke haze hung low over Grahamstown Dam on Sunday. Firefighters patrol Richardson Rd between Campvale and Raymond Terrace. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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TweetFacebookHeraldwent to print on Sunday, the immediate threat had eased and thealert level had been downgraded to Watch and Act.

It followed atense few hours for ground crews, who managedto hold the flames at bayas homes on Wade Close at Campvale came under threat.

Read more: Bushfires come within metres of homes on Cabbage Tree Road

The blaze, which started at Tomago last week, has now blackened more than 2200 hectares of bushland.

It was initially under the control of theRural Fire Service, until westerly winds picked up around lunchtime on Saturday.

Soon, the blaze was tearing south-easttowards rural properties onCabbage Tree Road and BarrieClose.

“It went through about 50 miles an hour, I reckon,” Cabbage Tree Road resident John Hillsaid.“It just took off. It was unbelievable.”

A neighbour, Rhianna Gorfine, stayed to defend her property with her husband, Cain. She was still rattled as she described the flames licking within 50 metres of her back boundary.

“It got really windy and that was the hairiest time,” Ms Gorfine said.

However a timely southerly change –coupled with the work of severalwater-bombing aircraft –drove the front back into the dense scrub.

It was a rare reprieve for residents of the area, who are living withinWilliamtown’s toxic contamination ‘red zone’, and were last forced to defend their homes from bushfires in 2013.

As the temperature plunged into the low twenties on Sunday, it appeared the worst was over. But winds gusting at up to 80 kilometres an hour flung embers over Richardson Road, and the fire front began to bear down on properties at Campvale.

There were reports a number of residents chose to evacuate.

Linescan images from the RFS showed the fire camewithin close range of the Williamtown RAAF base, while the western edge crept nearly as far as Raymond Terrace.

The cause remains unknown but the fire is not being treated as suspicious.