GALLERY: Firefighting the elements at Port Stephens Cutting

LIGHTNING strikes have sparked a new fire near a blaze already burning in hard-to-reach terrain along the Port Stephens Cutting.

The thunderstorm passed over the fire near Nowendoc Rd and did little to make an impact before igniting a blaze 2km away.

Rural Fire Service (RFS) units raced to the scene and were trying to douse the fresh blaze last night.

RFS Superintendent Allyn Purkiss said they needed to get the upper hand before it spiralled further out of control.

“We’re going to try to get it before it gets too big, because it’s about 2km down the Weabonga Rd,” he told The Leader last night.

“The helicopters have been tasked to the new fire and ground units will also attack it before it grows in size.”

It was the last thing the units needed after a rough day on the fire ground at the first blaze.

The fire jumped out of forest and ran through grassland, racing toward one property, however RFS units and water bombers from above were able to attack it before it did any damage.

No property was under threat last night, but the RFS was monitoring the 176-hectare blaze because of any further threats to isolated properties tucked away in the area.

The hilly and rugged terrain has proven difficult for volunteers, who also have to contend with falling trees.

Superintendent Purkiss said the weather was working against them.

“Because it’s so hot and so dry, anything is setting this fire off; any wind activity is hampering any and all of our efforts. Our normal wetting agents are not working too well at the moment, because it is so dry, so we’re still using our plants to doze off some tracks to try to contain it,” he said.

By yesterday afternoon ground units had managed to put a containment line using the dozer around the eastern side of the fire, while the dozer was still working to get a line on the western side.

Superintendent Purkiss said crews would patrol the blaze to ensure it didn’t jump the lines overnight.

“Two choppers will continue to water bomb (today). Three trucks from the Liverpool Range will also arrive to assist local crews that we are rolling over on the fire ground,” he said.

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