Royal National Park bushfire: Light rain falls as crews gain upper hand

A bushfire in the Royal National Park that has been burning for three days has been brought under control, the Rural Fire Service said on Tuesday morning.

Light rain fell over parts of the fire ground on Monday night. However, the RFS says the fire will continue to produce smoke that is drifting over south-western Sydney, the Illawarra and the South Coast.

Firefighters were able to establish containment lines on Monday and will remain at the fire on Tuesday to strengthen those lines.

The fire, which burnt out of control on Saturday and Sunday, is being treated as suspicious. 

The Royal National Park remains closed except for residents, and motorists have been advised to avoid the area.

The fire continued to burn on Monday, fanned by hot and windy conditions

Strengthening northeasterly winds and rising temperatures saw fire activity increase late morning, as the fight to bring the blaze under control entered its third day.

Firefighters spent Sunday night and Monday working to strengthen and patrol containment lines, with a particular focus along the fire’s north-western edge. 

Grounds crews, including about 50 Illawarra Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers in 11 trucks on Monday, were supported by a number of aircraft, including the Air-Crane and other helicopters. 

A makeshift body of water in the middle of the road was used to fill helicopters at the intersection of Sir Bertram Stevens Drive and Garie Road. The set-up was called a buoy wall, which to the average person resembles an inflatable pool, and allowed the aircraft to fill-up and take-off quickly.

The Heathcote Oval was used as a refuelling base.

The fire, which on Monday afternoon had burnt more than 2050 hectares along Sir Bertram Stevens Drive and to the coast between Garie and Wattamolla beaches, continued to generate a large amount of smoke in the area. 

Smoke from the fire was drifting over south-western Sydney, the Illawarra and as far as the South Coast. The RFS has warned the fire will continue to produce a “significant amount of smoke”.

Residents are being urged to call triple-zero only if they see an unattended fire. 

Seven Illawarra RFS units – including six firefighting appliances and one bulk water carrier – were expected to be on the fire ground on Monday night.

The number of Illawarra RFS resources will increase to eight trucks and the bulk water carrier on Tuesday.

The fire was listed as “being controlled” late on Monday afternoon. It is being treated as suspicious. 

All entrances to the Royal National Park are expected to remain closed until further notice. Police are managing access for residents.

The RFS said it was “hopeful” the fire would be contained as soon as possible, and the national park would be able to reopen for the Australia Day long weekend. 

Warm conditions are tipped to continue on Tuesday, with forecast maximums of 28 degrees in Wollongong and 31 at Albion Park.

Very high fire danger is again forecast across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.

This story Light rain falls over Royal National Park fire ground as crews gain upper hand first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.