Narrabri fire declared a ‘major incident’

RURAL Fire Service (RFS) firefighters battling two fires near Narrabri, including one burning in the Pilliga Forest, have called in aerial reinforcements to help them fight the blazes. 

Nine firefighters, three aircraft and three bulldozers from the RFS and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are fighting the fire burning in the Pilliga Forest, 73km south of Narrabri, which has burnt out more than 220 hectares. 

NSW RFS incident controller Brett Loughlin said the early deployment of ground crews and aircraft helped firefighters control what could have turned into a major bushfire in the Pilliga, with the area renowned for being difficult to access.

He said reports the fire was threatening coal seam gas wells in the forest were not correct.

The fire is believed to have begun from a lightning strike on Tuesday afternoon but is still under investigation.

Declaring the fire a “major incident” under Section 44 enables local firefighters to request reinforcements beyond their current resources, Mr Loughlin said yesterday.

“Accessing emergency funding allows us to ramp up our efforts, and shifts the focus from local council budgets,” Mr Loughlin said.

Aircraft from Sydney, Coonabarabran and Narrabri arrived yesterday to help ground crews control the fire in the Pilliga, with three aircraft diverted to attend a grass and scrub fire that began near the Newell Highway yesterday afternoon.

Mr Loughlin said the fire was expected to be contained last night.

No properties were at threat from either  fire.

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