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Hundreds rescued from fire in Aussie National Park

January 22, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A  major bushfire, believed to have been “clearly and strategically” lit, raged in Sydney’s Royal National Park at the weekend, forcing the closure of the park during a heatwave as firefighters escorted hundreds of people to safety.

The fire sent a huge plume of smoke into the sky, resembling a volcanic eruption and visible over much of Sydney. The park was closed over the weekend and remains closed today (Monday).

The Royal National Park is either the first or second most-visited national park in Australia. It vies year-to-year for that distinction with another big national park near Sydney – the Blue Mountains National Park.

Fire in Royal National Park sends plume of smoke into sky. Photo from beach at Austinmer by Peter Needham

With bushwalkers and beachgoers heading to the Royal National Park as Sydney weekend temperatures sizzled past 40C, the fire could have been disastrous – but quick response and good management saved the situation. The NSW Rural Fire Service and NSW Police evacuated about 200 people to Bundeena on Saturday afternoon, while other visitors were advised to “head to the beaches”.

One of the first people on the scene when the fire took hold, bushwalker Sally Langford, told ABC News she believed the fires had been lit deliberately. They were “clearly and strategically” lit as they were all along the same side of the road, she said, adding that it was “mind-blowing” to see a few small roadside fires turn into a major threat in 10 minutes.

 

Firefighters battled throughout the night to bring the blaze under control but Royal National Park remained closed yesterday and is closed today.

Boats had to be called in to evacuate people stranded on Garie Beach.

 

Video of the fire in the Royal National Park taken today by PolAir 5. PolAir 5 was patrolling walking tracks in the park to advise people to leave the park immediately. For bush fire updates please monitor www.rfs.nsw.gov.au

Posted by PolAir – NSW Police Force Airwing on Saturday, January 20, 2018

 

Australia’s first national park, the Royal National, located south of Sydney, was proclaimed on 26 April 1879 under the simple title: “The National Park”. It was the second such park to be declared in the world (the first being Yellowstone National Park in the US) and it was renamed “Royal National Park” when Queen Elizabeth II visited it in 1955.

 

A post shared by Jonahsigal (@jonahs3) on

Above: Close-up photos of the fire on Instagram by oshdresser@jonahs3 who drove past while coming back to work.

Well over 3 million people visit the Royal National Park each year.

Written by Peter Needham

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