MURWILLUMBAH volunteer rural fire-fighters Nicole Walker and Chris Saville
MURWILLUMBAH volunteer rural fire-fighters Nicole Walker and Chris Saville

Just the start - Fernvale blaze grim warning of tough bushfire season


IN a warning of what lies ahead, 10 fire crews were called out on Saturday to fight a fierce blaze just two minutes south of Murwillumbah at Fernvale.

The fire burnt out 60 hectares of bushland, bananas, and at times threatened properties along Fernvale Road.

Superintendent Dave Cook of the Tweed Fire Control Centre said numerous triple-0 calls had been received about the fire from residents and motorists travelling on the Tweed Valley Way near Quarry Hill.

Supt Cook said the alarm was raised just after noon and a Murwillumbah crew immediately went to the scene.

"When the crew arrived it was obvious that the fire was escalating quickly and more crews would be needed," Supt Cook said.

Murwillumbah town brigade and crews from other Tweed rural fire brigades, including two each from Burringbar and Cudgen, plus units from Bilambil and Mullumbimby were called in to fight the blaze and protect property.

A privately-owned bulk-water carrier was used to supplement the rural brigades' supplies.

Fernvale Road was closed as crews battled the blaze, with fallen trees and smoke causing a traffic hazard.

"This was a very volatile fire and it needed all those 10 crews under a group officer to bring it under control," Supt Cook said.

"The whole area is extremely dry and one careless match or cigarette butt could set it off.

"Once a fire gets going in these conditions, it can be very difficult to control," he said.

"I want to thank the crews for a job really well done. They worked extremely well together and stopped the fire from spreading."

Crews were relieved at midnight with patrols conducted throughout the night to ensure the fire did not reignite. Crews conducted further patrols and mopping-up operations yesterday morning, blacking-out logs and checking for dangerous trees.

Supt Cook said crews were called to two other fires on Friday night when a stolen car was torched on Fingal Road and in Bilambil where a rubbish fire escaped.

He said fires could only be lit after a permit was obtained, and no permits were being issued unless for an urgent agricultural purpose.

The cause of the Fernvale blaze was not known.

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