Arson suspected as fires continue to burn south of Grafton
FIRE authorities have confirmed that they believe at least two of the fires burning south of Grafton yesterday were deliberately lit.
Rural Fire Service Clarence Valley district manager Stuart Watts said that fire investigation crews will be on the scene of at least two fires in the Halfway Creek area today to assess the cause of the fires, but believed the cause to be arson.
"It's pretty gut-wrenching that people are lighting fires," Mr Watts said.
"These can be very dangerous, and you don't need this in the community.
"It's a danger to our firefighters and the general public."
Mr Watts also confirmed they would continue inquiries into the cause of fires that had been burning in the Barrett's Creek area, near Baryulgil, which had been burning "on and off" for the past few weeks.
Mr Watts said crews were called to a fire on Sunday afternoon at Bald Knob, Tick Road near Halfway Creek.
Yesterday, another fire began at Franklins Road at Glenugie, with a secondary blaze at Luthers Road, near Halfway Creek.
"Luthers Road is contained, and I would say that Bald Knob is under control, but there's still a lot of work to be done on Franklins Road," he said.
"There shouldn't be any property under threat there (at Franklins Road), but the fire may grow quite large."
Clarence Valley RFS units, town units were tasked to the fires south of Grafton with around 90 personnel and 35 firefighter appliances working on suppressing the fires. They were joined by fixed wing and rotary aircraft, including a large air tanker tasked out of Coffs Harbour.
The Daily Examiner has created a new podcast (audio documentary) that reveals the first hand experiences of our local RFS volunteers during the Clarence Valley's horrific 2019 bushfire season. Listen below:
Mr Watts said an expected southerly change due late last night could help quell the fire at Franklins Road, with a few days of cooler temperatures expected before expected hotter temperatures over the weekend.
"It's a timely warning to ensure that you have a bushfire survival plan that you rehearse with your family," Mr Watts said.
"It's not only about moving family members away from danger, there are other considerations with animals."
Mr Watts said it was important for people to listen to warnings, particularly moving in the summer months.
"If the rains don't eventuate there could be a lot more activity going forward with fires," he said.
"Listen to the advice released from fire agencies, know what they mean, and act sooner rather than later.
"If you've got a fire knocking at your back door, it's probably too late to leave, and we hope you're physically and mentally well enough and your place is well protected that you'll survive the fire."
The Glenugie fire blocked both lanes of the Pacific Highway due to poor visibility from smoke for around four hours yesterday, with light traffic diverted through the Orara Way.