Big Hill Trail fire rips back to life and burns over 1500 hectares

The Big Hill Trail fire at Crescent Head, which was burning out of control on December 5, has roared back to life and has ripped a trail south towards Port Macquarie’s North Shore.

Smoke and embers have filled the air along the coastline to Port Macquarie with the fire front now consuming more than 1700 hectares from Crescent Head to within two kilometres of the North Shore of Port Macquarie.

Rural Fire Service’s Stuart Robb district officer for the Mid North Coast said the fire reignited under windy conditions but should abate throughout the evening.

North Shore residents are being urged to Watch and Act throughout the evening and monitor the situation via the Fires Near Me app or ABC Radio alerts.

“We have crews and aircraft on scene to help bring it under control. It is the nature of coastal heath to burn quickly as it is wind driven. As the winds drop and conditions abate into the evening the situation should ease,” he said.

“At the moment there is lots of smoke in the air within the vicinity of the fire.”

There are 10 units from the Hastings RFS contingent attending the scene while National Parks and Wildlife assist the Kempsey crews.

Hundreds of people flocked the the Town Beach headland to watch the fire front as it billowed into the sky on Wednesday, December 6. Embers were starting to fall over Settlement Point.

Video by Jacki Jones

On Tuesday morning, the Rural Fire Service issued an Advice alert for the bush fire.

Conditions rapidly changed by the afternoon and the danger level was increased to Watch and Act as the size of the blaze skyrocketed from 10 hectares to over 1000 hectares of burnt bush land.

View of the fire from Port Macquarie. Photo: Tabitha DaBella.

View of the fire from Port Macquarie. Photo: Tabitha DaBella.

At around 5pm aircraft arrived on-scene to assist around six ground crews with water bombing.

Residents at the Goolawah Co-operative village, located near the fire, were assisted by RFS crews and prepared to evacuate.

Goolawah resident Peter O’Hara said residents had their bags ready to go.

“The fire came up from the south and we watched it all day - we were preparing, people were going around doing last minute cleaning up and we have our own little fire truck which we got ready,” Peter said.

“People were on alert and then when the RFS raised the alert level we were getting nervous.

“By early evening the fire had burnt right up to the southern edge of our place so probably a few hundred meters from the first house on our property.

“No one was panicking, but we had our bags packed.”

Rain on Tuesday night helped to ease the blaze which was downgraded to Advice level on the morning of December 6. By lunch time the RFS re-issued an updated Watch and Act alert.