FIRES continue to burn in the Great Lakes as well as Lorne and Dingo Tops after a close call in Taree last week.
In a well orchestrated operation led by the RFS, Wingham fire fighters in the last few days have been on hand at Taree Airport refuelling aircraft.
As water bombing helicopters return to the airport in order to refuel, fire crews are working fast to get them back in the sky. Known as hot refuelling, the helicopters keep their propellers turning while a crew of four complete the rapid refuel.
Wingham Fire and Rescue captain Dave O'Donnell said his crew were assisting the RFS with their operation to refuel and are on standby for a call out.
The eight helicopters and one winged aircraft have been water 'bombing' the fires. Using buckets to carry water or foam they are able to fly above the fires and assist the ground crews.
All four of Wingham's fire trucks were dispatched last Thursday to help fight the Taree bush fires.
Crews from both Fire Rescue NSW and Wallaby Joe RFS were called to defend the service centre at Taree South and up to 20 homes under threat. Wingham Fire Station captain Dave O'Donnell said both Wingham Fire and Rescue appliances were fully crewed with seven fire fighters on the scene.
It was a long day with Wallaby Joe crews still on the scene at 10pm that night. Wallaby Joe captain Bob Pope said the strong winds and intense heat made the job of fire fighters much more difficult.
With up to seven trucks on the highway and more inside the service centre, fire fighters successfully managed to stop the fire reaching the service station and the homes closest to the highway on Old Bar Road.
Captain O'Donnell said some of the homes were greatly impacted but the fire fighting efforts saved them. He commended many home owners who had taken the time to prepare their homes against fire, "it made our job a lot easier," he said.
Gloucester fire fighting crews were stationed in Wingham to protect the town while the local crews fought the raging fires. For many hours fires were burning out of control and extra fire fighters and appliances were brought in from Hastings and the Maitland areas.
More than 100 hectares of bushland burnt and the Pacific Highway was closed in both directions with traffic being diverted through Wingham, Tinonee and Krambach before being re-opened.
The fires were being controlled on Friday with some fire crews still on the ground.
Fire fighters needed
WINGHAM Fire and Rescue are calling on the community to spread the word - they need new crew.
With the bush fire season well and truly upon us, Captain Dave O'Donnell said they need new recruits in Wingham.
Anyone interested in becoming a fire fighter would need to have a driver's licence, live within a reasonable distance from Wingham and be available during the day between 6am and 6pm. There is no age limit and a physical fitness test will be given.
Please call Captain O'Donnell on 6553 4022 or 0427 817 164.