Forestry firefighters contain large Australia day bushfire near Bellingen

A combination of cutting-edge technology, helicopter water bombing and in-field firefighting has contained a large bushfire in Scotchman State Forest near Bellingen over the Australia day weekend.

Given the steep terrain, proximity to Bellingen and local weather conditions, Forestry Corporation of NSW quickly recognised the risk to the Bellingen and Kalang communities and acted quickly to control and contain the fire.

A helicopter was employed to water bomb the fire area throughout Sunday and Monday saw around eleven Forestry Corporation staff and contractors manage the fire on the ground.

Forestry Corporation Protection Supervisor Tom Newby said the organisation’s motivation over the weekend was to keep the fire contained and protect neighbouring community.

“Bushfires are a big risk in Australian summer and we take our responsibilities to protect the forest and nearby communities seriously,” Mr Newby said.

“Forestry Corporation committed significant resources to fighting the fires and our staff worked hard over the weekend to control the situation.

“Given the hot and dry conditions, these fires could very well have been much worse. Our firefighters live and work in the area, and their efforts over the weekend meant surrounding communities remained safe.”

Modern firefighting technology also meant the bushfire response was targeted and effective.

“The tools at our disposal these days greatly help us identify bushfires, plan our approach and communicate with other agencies,” Mr Newby said.

“We use drones to initially assess the fire and its extent, which meant our planning and response was accurate.

“Our Forestry Corporation mapping app, combined with portable radios in field and our partner agency’s technology systems, also meant we could quickly and clearly communicate with partners and the community.”

“Modern Australian firefighting is an advanced profession and we are grateful to have these advantages in battling the ever-present bushfire risk.”

Throughout the operation Forestry Corporation staff worked closely with neighbours and the helicopter pilot to minimise flying over houses and livestock, including one property with 26 horses.

Forestry Corporation is responsible for preventing and managing fires in two million hectares of State forests across New South Wales. It also assists with large bushfires on private property, other bushland in Australia and also overseas.

Media contact: Rod Campbell 0428058549