Volunteer firefighters from across the Illawarra are rushing to help communities in the NSW Central West as they battle growing fire emergencies.
The largest fire threatening people and properties is an out-of-control 2164 hectare bushfire in Tambaroora near Hill End. Separately, two large bushfires burning near Dubbo are listed as 'being controlled', they include a 847ha heading towards Toongi (south of Dubbo) and a 412ha blaze at Burrendong near Lake Burrendong.
Late on Tuesday, NSW Rural Fire Service firefighters from Dapto, Bulli and Helensburgh joined a strike team of crews headed for the state's Central West.
The deployment will include around 25 firefighters, four specialist bush firefighting trucks and a bulk water carrier.
"They'll go to Mudgee or Dapto depending on which is the worst at the time they arrive," RFS Illawarra district co-ordinator David Hitchens said.
Lightning strikes are thought to have caused the fires in Toongi and Lake Burrengong, ACM newspaper Daily Liberal reports.
People in Toongi were under an emergency warning and told to shelter in place on Monday afternoon, before the fire was downgraded overnight. On Tuesday morning, the fire was at an advice level and was actively being controlled by the RFS.
"They worked all day and night to bring the fire under control and then we had 30 crew members take over at night time and we had the heavy plant [equipment] working at night, too," RFS Chief Superintendent Tim Butcher said.
Historically, a single lightning strike was behind Australia's biggest ever forest fire from a single ignition point.
The Gospers Mountain fire ignited on October 26, 2019 when a bolt of lightning hit the ground in a densely grown area of the Wollemi National Park in the Blue Mountains.
For 79 days it tore through bushland, destroying homes, shattering lives and killing countless wildlife who were unlucky enough to be in its path.
By the time it was extinguished it had burnt through 512,626 hectares, this is equivalent to seven times the size of Singapore.
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