A number of homes on the NSW south coast are under threat from an out-of-control bushfire whipped up by strong winds “unbelievably quickly”.
Emergency warnings were issued to residents at Mount Kingiman, south of Ulladulla, and in North Nowra on Wednesday morning, with some told it is too late to leave.
Winds from the northwest were fanning both blazes and conditions are expected to get worse in the afternoon, with gusts of up to 110km/h predicted.
Fire crews are on scene to protect properties between West Cambewarra Rd and the Princes Highway near Bomaderry, where the fire is burning close to homes.
Firefighters from #NSWRFS and @FRNSW working to protect homes at the Croobyar Rd, Mount Kingiman fire near Burrill Lake. An evacuation centre has been set up at Ulladulla Civic Centre for residents who have relocated. #nswfires pic.twitter.com/F94S6jeAsi
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) August 15, 2018
“That fire’s whipped up unbelievably quick this morning under those very strong north-westerly winds,” NSW Rural Fire Service Inspector Ben Shepherd said on Wednesday.
People around the areas of Kings Point, Burrill Lake and southern Ulladulla are being told to move into the Ulladulla CBD if they are not prepared.
An evacuation centre has been set up at the Ulladulla Civic Centre.
Thick smoke over Milton. View of the Mt Kingiman fire (Emergency status) that’s being pushed south east towards the Dolphins Point, Kings Point and Burrill Lake townships. Some homes on Hobbs Lane and Evans Lane at Milton have been evacuated. @ABCemergency @NSWRFS @FRNSW pic.twitter.com/olDGwYtxES
— Ainslie DrewittSmith (@AinslieClaire) August 15, 2018
“Our concern is now given these wind strengths that we could actually start to see embers move onto the eastern side of Burrill Lake,” Mr Shepherd said.
“If the embers do take hold … they’re going to escalate very very quickly under these extraordinary strong winds.”
The fire is about 100 hectares in size.
TOTAL FIRE BAN DECLARED FOR SYDNEY, ILLAWARRA AND HUNTER – Conditions are deteriorating, with stronger winds than originally forecast. A total fire ban is now in force for Sydney, Illawarra and Hunter areas until midnight tonight. #nswrfs #nswfires
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) August 15, 2018
The owner of Burill Lake Holiday Park said they had been told to get ready but had not yet evacuated holidaymakers.
“I haven’t seen it this bad before,” he told ABC Radio.
A grass fire was also burning out of control in Jerrara, west of Kiama, with reports some properties were under threat.
“It is in a highly populated area but crews are doing their best in some extraordinarily strong winds we’re starting to see whip up and down the coast,” Mr Shepherd said.
“There’s a lot of work still to do to bring that fire under control.”
The Kingiman Road #Fire, west of #Milton, is now burning out of control. Thick smoke is blanketing #Ulladulla (as seen in pics). There is a High Fire Danger rating for today. pic.twitter.com/sg8tvfRLSx
— Emily Barton (@emilybarton1211) August 14, 2018
Fire crews had already been on high alert with warm and windy weather forecast across the state.
The RFS has urged property owners to think twice before burning off on Wednesday, as temperatures rise to the mid-20s amid winds of up to 90km/h.
SES Illawarra region controller Greg Murphy told ABC radio the strong winds had torn off roofs and damaged trees, with crews already out and responding to calls for help.
About 2500 properties are without power in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions due to the winds.
Firefighters are gaining an upper hand on two other fires, one in Jerrara, west of Kiama, and another in Yatte Yattah.
Firefighters were kept busy last weekend with “irresponsible” and “careless” landholders behind dozens of escaped and illegal burns in windy conditions, some of which threatened homes.
Some 48 incidents were reported across the state between Friday and Sunday, 10 more than the previous weekend.