9 January 2023

Investigation underway into fires at Griffith's Scenic Hill

| Oliver Jacques
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Three fires on Scenic Hill

Aerial shot of three fires at Scenic Hill on Saturday. Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service – MIA District.

More than 35 volunteers from several Riverina-based NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) crews gave up their entire weekend to extinguish a series of fires on Griffith’s Scenic Hill, which started at 5:30 pm on Saturday (7 January).

MIA District RFS operational officer Scott Connor said at this stage the cause of the fires is unknown, and police and forensics will soon be on the ground investigating.

“We had about 15 fire trucks on site on Saturday and another six on Sunday,” he said.

“There were a number of crews there to assist, including Hanwood, Widgelli, Wyangan, Myall Park, Bilbul, Beelbangra, Darlington Point and Yanco [RFS].

“We had a helicopter working on the fire on Sunday, as well as an RPAS [Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems], which is basically a drone. We also had what’s called the district chainsaw crew to assist with mopping up. There were many volunteers who worked until very late on Saturday night.

“The fire is contained at the moment, but there is still smoke visible. We will continue to monitor it over the week as the forecast is for hot and windy conditions.”

Mr Connor urged the general public to remain vigilant.

“Scenic Hill is quite popular with recreational users. We’d urge them to watch out for any falling tree limbs and stay out of the burnt areas.

“This is a timely reminder that there is a large fuel load around. People do need to prepare their property, especially if it backs onto bushland.”

A night shot of fire crews at Scenic Hill

RFS volunteers worked until late in the night. Photo: NSW RFS – Hanwood Brigade.

Hanwood RFS noted in a Facebook post that the MIA Operational Support Group and Fire and Rescue NSW were also in attendance.

“To those who called 000 when they saw smoke, we say thank you. Please stay alert as it heats up. Members of the public are reminded to keep updated via the Fires Near Me App and know the Australian Fire Danger Ratings,” Hanwood RFS posted.

The NSW Rural Fire Service is the world’s largest volunteer fire service, made up of more than 70,000 members across the state. The crews are responsible for providing emergency services to more than 95 per cent of the land area of NSW.

Mr Connor said, as always, they are looking for more volunteers to ensure the families are well protected over the summer. Hanwood RFS says that while the job isn’t paid, there are many benefits.

“Our brigade does weekly training. We aim to improve our skills through drills and complex scenarios to prepare us for any emergency. Our district also runs a large range of courses in which you can gain nationally recognised qualifications,” Hanwood RFS said.

“Our brigade is like a second family. We have regular social events and group dinners every week after training. Our brigade is made up of a diverse range of cultures, and we have dedicated male and female kit rooms. We work as one team providing a high level of professionalism to our community. We even have a station gym where our goal is to improve our cardio and fitness levels while socialising and building friendships.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can do so via the RFS website.

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