Looking back at December 5, 1997
A helicopter was called in to water bomb a fire burning at Bellambi Creek.
With another two fires breaking out on the top of the escarpment above Corrimal a state of emergency in the Illawarra was declared.
To try and contain the Bellambi Creek fire, up to 50 firefighters started a major back-burning operation west of the motorway and north of Picton Road.
The operation saw north and southbound lanes on the motorway closed to traffic at various times, largely due to concerns of reduced visibility due to smoke.
Eleven fire units, a bulldozer, a Water Board boat and a helicopter from Victoria were being used in the effort to contain the blaze which had already burnt out more than 800 hectares of Crown land.
The aerial water bombing on a number of spot fires in the area would continue today in a bid to put out all blazes so they would not flare up during higher temperatures at the weekend.