Firefighters at the Hall Road fire in the Southern Highlands took advantage of yesterday’s cool weather to continue their containment and cleaning-up work.
While the isolated showers that fell across the region aided their efforts, deputy incident controller Tony Horwood said it would be some time yet before the fire was out.
‘‘The crews have done really well to contain it so far,’’ he said. ‘‘They will be continuing work on the ground for at least another one or two weeks.’’
With the Hall Road fire officially classified as ‘‘under control’’, the firefighters are now putting their main effort into patrolling the edge of the fire ground, looking for hot spots and extinguishing them.
Given that the fire has burnt more than 15,000hectares, there is a lot of country to be covered, but the ground crews are being helped in their efforts by fixed wing aircraft fitted with high-tech forward-looking infrared (FLIR) cameras.
The FLIR-equipped planes fly over the area taking images, which are then downloaded and overlaid on to a GPS mapping system.
‘‘They go out looking for hot spots every afternoon and then they get mapped, and the ground crews use those to go out the next day on search-and-destroy missions,’’ said Mr Horwood, who is the Illawarra area manager for the National Parks and Wildlife Service. ‘‘We also have three helicopters working with us and if we find any evidence of fire, we can call in water-bombing support.’’
The heat settings on the FLIR cameras were adjustable and sensitive enough to detect wildlife from their body heat.
‘‘You can find koalas in trees if it is set low enough,’’ Mr Horwood said.
‘‘But normally we have it set at 100degrees [celsius].’’
While the fire was under control, Mr Horwood said the community should be aware that backburning operations would be continuing and there would be smoke for a while yet.
‘‘However, if they observe an active fire – not just smoke but an active, running fire – then they should call triple-0 and report it.’’