An unlucky strike ignites mountain

THUNDERSTORMS are being blamed for a bushfire burning on a hill near Kingstown.

A helicopter was called in to water-bomb the fire on Honeysuckle Mountain yesterday afternoon to back up ground crews, which struggled to traverse the rocky terrain.

A lightning strike hit rugged scrubland more than a kilometre off Kingstown Rd on Tuesday night before a landholder spotted smoke yesterday.

Rural Fire Service (RFS) Superintendent Steve Meppam said a bulldozer was used to help RFS units up steep terrain.

“We’re trying to get it out before it gets out into scrub and down the mountain,” he said.

“Landowners are up there assisting units with the fire.”

By late yesterday the fire had burnt out a few hectares, but RFS units would continue to patrol it.

Meanwhile, volunteers have been able to douse a fire that was sparked by a lightning strike near another bushfire on Port Stephens Cutting.

RFS volunteers attacked the blaze on Tuesday night and spent yesterday mopping up the area.

The Port Stephens Cutting fire, which was sparked on Monday, is being controlled, with thermal-imaging equipment brought in last night.

RFS Superintendent Allyn Purkiss said crews used the day to consolidate containment lines.

“The thermal-imaging camera will help to identify those hot spots, such as logs, sticks and tree stumps, or routes burning under the ground,” he said.

“The infrared camera technology is helping us find those spots before they start smoking and take off.”

Port Stephens Cutting Rd remains closed but volunteers are having trouble with motorists breaking the rules.

“The real issue is with people who are disobeying the road-closed signs and just driving through. We have begun passing registration plates on to police for those that continue to drive around the road-closed signs,” Superintendent Purkiss said.

Water-bombers will continue to work on the fire again today, with a high fire danger forecast for the Northern Slopes and North West.

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