Sydney bushfire might have been deliberately lit

UPDATE, SUNDAY 6.50AM: A bush fire that threatened homes in Sydney’s south west has eased on Sunday morning, though authorities are cautioning residents to remain vigilant.

The Rural Fire Service has downgraded the threat level for the fire, which is travelling north-east toward Sandy Point and Alfords Point.

Nevertheless, residents in suburbs Illawong, Bangor and Picnic Point are continuing to experience ember attacks, and are advised to monitor for spot fires.

NSW Police had earlier speculated that a grass fire in the area, to which emergency services were first alerted at 2.45pm on Saturday, may have been deliberately lit.

Fire fighters remain in place around Wattle Grove, the Holsworthy military complex, Voyager Point, Menai, Barden Ridge and Pleasure Point.

Heathcote Road is closed between Macarthur Drive and New Illawarra Road.

Police from Liverpool Police Area Command said they were appealing for witnesses in relation to an out-of-control grass fire that started on Saturday afternoon in the vicinity of Leacocks Reserve, Casula.

That fire had spread through Moorebank, Wattle Grove, Holsworthy. 

A crime scene has been established.

EARLIER: A fire that has been raging in Sydney’s south-west, causing hundreds of people to evacuate their homes,  may have been deliberately lit, police say.

An emergency warning has been issued for the fire which has been burning in Wattle Grove and is now moving in a south-easterly direction.

The Rural Fire Service on Saturday night said the fire had crossed Heathcote Road and was moving towards the suburbs of Alfords Point, Menai and Barden Ridge.

Residents in those suburbs, as well as the Wattle Grove community,  Voyager Point, Pleasure Point and Sandy Point and the Holsworthy military base have been advised it is now too late to leave and they should seek shelter from the fire.

A social media post reported hearing ammunition exploding at the nearby Holsworthy Barracks.

Emergency Alert messages are being sent to people in the area.

Heathcote Road is now closed between Macarthur Drive and New Illawarra Road.

"Residents in Illawong and Bangor will be starting to see smoke and embers as a result of this fire," the RFS said.

"People should continue to monitor the situation and activate their bush fire survival plan."

Emergency services were first alerted to the blaze about 2.45pm on Saturday, Inspector Mitch Newtown, duty officer at Liverpool police station said.

‘‘We believe it might have been a deliberately lit fire,’’ Inspector Newtown said.

‘‘We want to turn our focus to the investigation once the welfare of the people is taken care of.’’

A NSW Rural Fire Service emergency warning was first issued after 3.30pm on Saturday for the fast-moving bushfire, with residents in the Wattle Grove community and Holsworthy military complex told to shelter in place.

A few hundred people are taking shelter at Moorebank Sports Complex, including many young families and some people with pets, waiting for updates from police.

Inspector Newtown said police were called to a few spot fires about 10pm on Friday in Casula, which may have also been deliberately lit.

‘‘It’s a possibility today’s fire has been some of those spot fires reignited,’’ he said.

Police are hoping residents can return home on Saturday night, but emergency accommodation forms are also being distributed at the evacuation centre.

Residents in Voyager Point, Pleasure Point and Sandy Point are now also being advised to shelter in place and not to leave their homes.

Heathcote Road has been closed and buses are replacing trains between East Hills and Glenfied on the T8 airport and south line, with the Transport Management Centre telling people to allow plenty of additional travel time and to check indicator boards.

AAP, Fairfax Media

Advice

Put your Bush Fire Survival Plan into action. If you do not have a Bush Fire Survival Plan, know what you will do if the fire threatens your property.

Well prepared and actively defended homes can offer safety during the fire.

An Evacuation Centre has been set up at Moorebank Sports Club, 230 Heathcote Rd, Hammondville.

Other Information

  • If your life is at risk, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.
  • Continue to stay up to date with the bush fire situation by checking http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au, listening to your local radio station or by calling the NSW RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.
  • If you live in the area but are away from home, it may not be safe to return to your property.
  • For information on road closures, check http://livetraffic.rta.nsw.gov.au. Roads may be closed without warning.

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