LIVE: Hunter Bushfire Threat Eases

Containment work continues

LIVE: Hunter Bushfire Threat Eases Media Response Newcastle

Thursday, 5:30am

Firefighters have a long day ahead trying to contain the Richmond Vale inferno - but the change in conditions has helped dramatically.

It's now listed at the Advice level after burning through close to 900 hectares, with firefighters taking advantage of the southerly change and this morning's showers.

While there's no threat to any homes or properties it could still be some time before the blaze is completely contained.

James Morris from the RFS says there's still a lot of work ahead for ground crews.

"We're still seeing some significant winds across the firegrounds."

"That'll create some issues for pushing those fires in another direction, so still a long way for firefighters to go."

"However this cooler weather will certainly be helping them this morning."

Meantime detectives from Strike Force Tronto will begin an investigation into its cause of the blaze, following reports it was started by a car fire.

The Black Hill inferno is contained and remains at the Advice level.

Photo - J.Kolarik 

6:21pm - Both the Richmond Vale and Black Hill bushfires have been downgraded to the Advice level, thanks to easing conditions.

There's currently no threat to homes.

A southerly change is due this evening which may see an increase in fire activity and spread the fires in a different direction.

4:52pm - Firefighters are still working to contain the Black Hill bushfire which is burning around Browns Road, west of the M1.

4:48pm - Leggetts Drive remains closed between Pelaw Main and Whitebridge Road.

Local residents are being given access.

Black Hill Road is also closed between John Renshaw Drive and Lenaghans Drive.

4:02pm - The RFS says conditions are easing on the fire ground at Richmond Vale.

The blaze has burnt through about 700 hectares of bush around Leggetts Drive.

3:59pm - Heaton State Forest and Watagans National Park near Freemans Waterhole are being immediately evacuated and closed due to bushfires in the area.

Forestry Corporation of NSW is asking all visitors to leave the Watagan Mountains without delay and not to attempt to enter the area.

A bushfire in Heaton State Forest is spreading fast in the area north of Mt Faulk Road, Heaton Road and Watagan Forest Road towards Watagan National Park.

Watagan Forest Road and Mt Faulk Road will be closed from Freemans Drive and Watagan Forest Road will be closed from Sandy Creek Road at Quorrobolong.

Forestry Corporation has dispatched extra crews to the area and is working closely with the Rural Fire Service.

3:28pm - The Richmond Vale fire has been downgraded to a watch and act, however it continues to burn out of control.

3:06pm - Stuart O'Keefe from the Rural Fire Service says kids at Black Hill Public School have been moved to a safe location for school pickup - and everyone's OK:

"Students will be able to be collected at Lenaghans Drive, on the eastern side of the M1 motorway."

"For parents concerned in regards to the students, the school proactively thought they would relocate the students and not have to deal with any fire activity come the end of school hours."

1:51pm - James Morris from the RFS says the Black Hill Public School is in the area but it's not under immediate threat.

"The school is aware of the situation and it's preparing to enact its Bushfire Survival Plan."

"There's no direct threat to the school and we're in constant contact with them."

"We'll have firefighting resources at that location should it be required."

1:42pm -

Photo: Britt Banks

1:35pm The RFS has issued new advice for Black Hill residents:

If you are in the area of Black Hill Road and your plan is leave, leave now if the path is clear.

If the fire impacts on your property, seek shelter and protect yourself from the heat of the fire.

There is heavy smoke in the area.

Photo: Media Response Newcastle

Photo: Media Response Newcastle

Photo: Media Response Newcastle

Photo: Media Response Newcastle

1:14pm - A Watch and Act has been issued for a second bushfire at Black Hill. It's near Browns Road and is burning near rural properties west of the M1.

The fire is bringing up heavy smoke.

1:06pm - A train carriage at the Richmond Vale Railway Museum has been destroyed by the out of control bushfire.

Photo: 7 News

Photo: 7 News

12:57pm - The RFS has issued fresh advice for Richmond Vale residents:

A number of properties are under threat in the area round Leggetts Drive, Orchid Road, Whitebridge Road, Richmond Vale Road. Seek shelter if the fire impacts on your property and protect yourself from the heat of the fire.

If you are in the area of Sheppeard Drive and your plan is to leave, leave now to the north if the path is clear.

12:37pm - The Richmond Vale bushfire has crossed Leggetts Drive and is burning in an easterly direction.

Leggetts Drive remains closed in both directions.

Homes are under threat in the area around Leggetts Drive, Orchid Road, Whitebridge Road, Richmond Vale Road, and Sheppeard Road.

People in the area of Stanford Merthyr should monitor conditions. If your plan is to leave, leave now away from the fire.

People in the area of West Wallsend and Edgeworth may experience smoke.

Photo: BigData Earth

Photo: BigData Earth

Photo: Kurri Kurri Community Centre

12:02pm - The fire is burning close to homes at Richmond Vale. It remains at the Emergency level.

Photo: RFS

11:51am - The Large Air Tanker Thor is being brought in to tackle the Richmond Vale fire.

Leggetts Drive is closed in both directions from Whitebridge Rd and Pelaw Main. Traffic's being diverted via Lake Rd and Cessnock Rd through Cessnock.

11:28am - The Richmond Vale bushfire burning south of Kurri Kurri has broken containment lines and is now threatening homes.

The RFS has upgraded the fire to the emergency warning level.

It's burning on the western side of Leggetts Drive between Pelaw Main and Mulbring and is moving in an easterly direction.

Firefighters and water-bombing aircraft are working to slow the spread of the fire, with crews undertaking property protection at Leggetts Drive and Orchid Rd, Whitebridge Rd and Richmond Vale Rd.

Leggetts Drive is closed in both directions from Whitebridge Rd and Pelaw Main.

Emergency Alert telephone warning messages are being sent to people in the area.

The inferno is currently 381 hectares in size.

People in the area of Stanford Merthyr are being told to monitor conditions. If your plan is to leave, leave now away from the fire.

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