Campvale, Salt Ash bushfire: The RFS has downgraded the fire to 'advice' level

Friday, 9pm:

The Campvale and Salt Ash fire has been downgraded from ‘watch and act’ to ‘advice’.

The RFS said firefighters will remain on the fireground overnight and will continue to strengthen containment lines.

Backburning may be undertaken in some areas if weather conditions allow.

“It’s been a big effort from NSWRFS, NPWS and FRNSW firefighters,” the RFS said in its latest update on the Port Stephens bushfire.

“Thankfully no reported homes lost and most importantly no lives lost. Still a lot of work to do over coming days.”

The fire is burning in bushland between Campvale and Salt Ash. The fire has burnt more than 1600 hectares since Thursday lunch time.

Conditions are easing however the fire is not yet contained.

It is burning uncontained on the southern side, between Richardson Road and Nelson Bay Road.

Continue monitoring the fire on the RFS website or Fires Near Me app.

Friday, 5pm:

Nelson Bay Road has reopened.

Medowie and Richardson roads have also reopened.

Lemon Tree Passage Road remains closed between Nelson Bay Road and Brownes Road.

The fire is burning in bushland between Campvale and Salt Ash. The fire has burnt more than 1500 hectares.

Conditions are easing however the fire is not yet contained.

It is burning uncontained on the southern side, between Richardson Road and Nelson Bay Road.

Firefighters and aircraft continue to work on slowing the spread of the fire and protecting homes in the area.

The fire has been downgraded to Watch And Act, however you should continue to monitor conditions.

Know what you will do if the situation changes. Follow your Bush Fire Survival Plan. 

Friday, 4pm:

Two evacuation centres have been established to support residents displaced by the Port Stephens bushfire, which about 4pm the RFS downgraded from ‘emergency warning’ to ‘watch and act’.

Residents on the Tilligerry Peninsula who need to leave their homes due to the fire can seek shelter in Tanilba Bay or Raymond Terrace.

Police and staff from Family and Community Services will be on hand to help residents who need to evacuate their homes, or cannot get home due to the road closures.

The evacuation centres can be found at:

  • Raymond Terrace Senior Citizens and Community Hall - 17E Irrawang St, Raymond Terrace
  • Tilligerry RSL Sports Club - Lemon Tree Passage Rd, Tanilba Bay
  • Tilligerry Aquatic Centre will be closed until further notice.
  • The Salamander Bay Waste Transfer Station is currently closed to the public.
  • Garbage, recycling and kerbside collection services are currently running as usual however bins in Raymond Terrace may not be able to be picked up today due to road closures. If your street is missed, please leave your bins out and we will collect them as quickly as possible.
  • Kerbside collection on the Tilligerry Peninsula will not proceed due to road closures. We will be out to collect these as soon as possible.

3.30pm, Friday:

Wind gusts up to 90km/h has temporarily grounded water-bombing aircraft, leaving the fire-fighting to the men and women on the ground.

The southern side of the fire continues to burn uncontained south of Richardson Road and north of Nelson Bay Road.

The fire is spotting in a number of areas under strong winds, which are expected to continue in the area today and this will hamper firefighting efforts.

Nelson Bay Road has been closed again between Richardson Road and Medowie Road.

It is expected to be closed for several hours.

Pacific Dunes in Medowie has taken to Facebook to share photos of how close the fire came to the golf course.

“A huge shout out to the amazing men and women of the NSW Rural Fire Service they have been on site for close to 18 hours now protecting the residents of PD,” the golf club posted.

The fire reached the boundary of the golf course, singing the edge of the greens along the fencing. 

Friday, 1.30pm:

Rural Fire Service has praised Salt Ash residents for their bushfire preparedness as close to 200 firefighters battle the blaze that is threatening properties near Rookes Road.

NSW RFS Inspector Rolfe Poole said the residents who have prepared their properties for a fire and have a Bush Fire Survival Plan in place has made all the difference to firefighters in the area.

"Planning and preparation is key to survival," he said. "The fact that people in Salt Ash have prepared their homes, have established asset protection zones, have Bush Fire Survival Plans in place, it really helps us in keeping properties safe."

Inspector Rolfe, who is on the ground in Salt Ash on Friday, said there are 190 firefighters on the ground.

The Rural Fire Service is coordinating brigades from across the state in addition to firefighters from Fire and Rescue NSW and National Parks and Wildlife Service and a strike team from Sydney.

Efforts on the ground are being supported by four Large Air Tankers, water-bombing helicopters, a sky crane and other fixed wing aircraft.

"We're using all resources available to us," Inspector Rolfe said.

The fire, which remains at Emergency Warning level, is burning in the Salt Ash, Pacific Dunes and Campvale areas.

It has burnt approximately 1550 hectares of land, largely within the Tilligerry State Conservation Area.

Port Stephens residents experienced an emergency level fire in the area in August, which consumed a large area of bushland within the Tilligerry State Conservation Area.

The wind has been the toughest element to battle since the fire was first reported about 1pm on Thursday.

According to Weatherzone, Wind gusts reportedly exceeded 90km/h at Newcastle Airport between noon and 1pm.

"The wind really is not assisting us but what is assisting us is the area that was previously burned in winter," Inspector Rolfe said.

"Our main concern is the fire is running to the east, towards Rookes Road and Lemon Tree Passage Road.

"The bush that was burned in August is a help, because the fire has nowhere to go when it gets there."

Fire activity on the northern side of the fireground increased on Friday morning, moving the fire towards Rookes Road at Salt Ash.

The southern side of the fire continues to burn uncontained south of Richardson Road and north of Nelson Bay Road. 

Fire crews are in position at homes along Nelson Bay Road to protect them if required.

The fire is spotting in a number of areas under strong winds, which are expected to continue in the area on Friday.

The RFS said this will hamper firefighting efforts.

The RFS is advising:

  • If you are in the area around Rookes Road, Salt Ash seek shelter if the fire impacts on your property. Protect yourself from the heat of the fire.
  • Follow your Bush Fire Survival Plan. If you do not have a Bush Fire Survival Plan, ensure you know what you will do if the fire threatens your property.
  • Only well prepared and actively defended homes can offer safety.
  • If you see an unattended fire please call Triple Zero (000) immediately.

Other Information:

  • Lemon Tree Passage Road, Richardson Road and Medowie Road have been closed. 
  • Nelson Bay Road has been reopened under managed police escort. Residents should be patient, follow the advice and direction from emergency services personnel. Check http://livetraffic.rta.nsw.gov.au
  • There are reports of network issues with mobile phone coverage in the area. It is important to stay up to date with information on the NSW RFS website and social media pages, along with listening for the latest information on local radio and following the advice from firefighters and emergency service personnel in the area.
  • Students from Salt Ash Public School have been relocated to Fern Bay Public School today, as Salt Ash Public School is non operational due to fire activity.
  • Newcastle Airport is currently open with flights arriving and departing. Passengers should check the airport website and their airline for specific schedule information.

Friday, 12pm:

Optus has confirmed that part of its network is down in Port Stephens due to the Campvale bushfire, affecting many customers in the area.

An Optus spokesperson said customers in Shoal Bay, Port Stephens and the Hunter are experiencing disruptions to mobile call, text and data services as a result of a network outage in the area.

There are reports that Virgin mobile phone services are also interrupted.

“Optus’ network operations team is monitoring the network to identify the source of the outage,” the spokesperson said.

“We understand there are currently bushfires in the region and these can often be the cause of network outage issues due to loss of power to towers. 

“Optus apologises to all customers in the area affected by this and thank them for their patience while services are being restored.”

The telecommunications company advises that in the case of an emergency, customers should still dial 000 from a fixed phone line or 112 from their mobile phone. 

Optus has not yet identified the source of the outage.

The NSW Rural Fire Service, which is coordinating the efforts to contain the Port Stephens bushfire, acknowledged the network issues in its Friday emergency warning update.

“There are reports of network issues with mobile phone coverage in the area,” the RFS said.

“It is important to stay up to date with information on the NSW RFS website and social media pages, along with listening for the latest information on local radio and following the advice from firefighters and emergency service personnel in the area.”

Friday, 8.30am:

People near Rookes Road at Salt Ash have been urged to seek shelter in the area after the Richardson Road fire that began in Campvale flared overnight and began heading east. 

“Only well prepared and actively defended homes can offer safety,” firefighters advise residents in the area. 

The fire has been elevated back to Emergency warning level, the highest classification that means it is too late to leave. 

The southern side of the fire continues to burn uncontained to the south of Richardson Road and north of Nelson Bay Road. 

Crews are stationed along Nelson Bay Road to protect them if required. 

Lemon Tree Passage, Nelson Bay Road, Richardson Road and Medowie Road are closed, cutting off access to both Lemon Tree and Nelson Bay. 

Emergency alert messages have been sent to residents as strong winds continue to hamper firefighting efforts. ​

Thursday

Update, 8pm:

Easing conditions and the work of firefighters on the ground and in the air has slowed the spread of the Campvale bushfire which has been downgraded from ‘emergency warning’ level to ‘watch and act’.

Overnight, fire crews will continue work to build containment lines, which may include backburning, in an effort to control the fire.

The fire may still be burning close to homes in the Salt Ash area however, the RFS said there is currently no direct threat to properties.

Strong winds are expected to continue in the area through the evening.

Nelson Bay Road between Medowie Road at Williamtown and Richardson Road at Paul’s Corner, Salt Ash has been reopened.

Lemon Tree Passage Road is closed.

Richardson Road is still closed between Grahamstown and Nelson Bay roads. 

Medowie Road is still closed between Ferodale and Nelson Bay Road.

For the latest traffic updates call 132 701, visit livetraffic.com or download the Live Traffic NSW App.

RFS advice:

If you are in the area of Salt Ash, particularly Salt Ash Avenue, Hideaway Drive, Shady Ave, Nelson Bay Road, Lemon Tree Passage Road, Janet Parade and Marsh Road it is too late to leave. Seek shelter as the fire front arrives and protect yourself from the heat of the fire.

If you are not in the area, it may not be safe to return. Richardson Road, Medowie Road and Lemon Tree Passage Road are now closed.

Nelson Bay Road is being reopened.

An evacuation centre has been established for affected residents at Irrawang High School in Mount Hall Road, Raymond Terrace.

Put your Bush Fire Survival Plan into action. If you do not have a Bush Fire Survival Plan, know what you will do if the fire threatens your property.

Update, 4.30pm:

Firefighters are facing difficult conditions with strong winds fanning the Campvale fire towards homes at Salt Ash.

The emergency warning remains in place.

There is currently no access by road to Nelson Bay.

Nelson Bay Road is now closed between Medowie Road roundabout at Williamtown and Richardson Road roundabout at Paul’s Corner, Salt Ash due to the fire.

Richardson Road is still closed between Grahamstown and Nelson Bay roads.

Medowie Road is still closed between Ferodale and Nelson Bay Road.

Motorists are advised to avoid non-essential travel.

Update, 3.30pm:

An emergency warning has been put in place for the bushfire burning at Campvale.

Waterbombing aircraft and large air tankers are assisting ground crews in protecting homes and to slow the spread of the fire which is burning along Richardson Road.

The fire is being pushed by strong westerly winds in an easterly direction along Richardson Road.

The fire has crossed Medowie Road and is burning towards Salt Ash. 

The fire is out of control.

The RFS has said that the fire may impact properties in the next hour.

Emergency alert telephone warnings are being sent to homes in the area.

If you are in the Salt Ash area, it is too late to leave. Seek shelter as the fire front arrives and protect yourself from the heat of the fire.

Image shows road closures near Campvale. Picture: Live Traffic NSW

Image shows road closures near Campvale. Picture: Live Traffic NSW

If you are not in the area, it may not be safe to return.

The RFS is advising residents put their Bush Fire Survival Plan into action.

Richardson Road has been closed between Grahamstown Road and Nelson Bay Road at Paul’s Corner, Salt Ash. 

Medowie Road is closed between Ferodale Road and Nelson Bay Road.

Motorists are being advised to use Cabbage Tree Road and Masonite Road.

Strong winds are fanning the fire, and further road closures may occur.

Earlier, 1.30pm:

Richardson Road and parts of Medowie Road have been closed in both directions while firefighters fight a bushfire at Campvale.

Rural Fire Service, National Parks and Wildlife Service and Fire and Rescue NSW units are responding to the grass fire burning on the southern side of Richardson Road, near Medowie Road, at Campvale.

At 2pm, the fire was upgraded from ‘advice’ to ‘watch and act’ level.

According to the RFS Fires Near Me website, the fire is burning ‘out of control’.

The fire, first reported about 1pm, has consumed 8 hectares of bushland within the Tilligerry State Conservation Area.

Heidi Luff was visiting a friend at Campvale when the fire broke out. 

Richardson Road, Campvale bushfire. Picture shows fire in the trees next to Richardson Rd. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Richardson Road, Campvale bushfire. Picture shows fire in the trees next to Richardson Rd. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

She said in a matter of 20 minutes the smoke turned to flames.

“When it started a resident took his hose over. The wind was so strong, the fire grew rapidly,” she said.

“I left when it was getting too big to stay.”

The RFS has said that firefighters are in place to protect homes to the north of the fireground.

At 2.30pm, the RFS said the fire was not posing a threat to homes in the area.

Motorists are being advised to avoid the area.

Richardson Road has been closed between Grahamstown Road and Nelson Bay Road at Paul’s Corner, Salt Ash. 

Medowie Road is closed between Ferodale Road and Nelson Bay Road.

Motorists are being advised to use Cabbage Tree Road and Masonite Road.

Strong winds are fanning the fire, and further road closures may occur.

For the latest traffic updates call 132 701, visit livetraffic.com or download the Live Traffic NSW App.

Thursday’s warm and windy conditions prompted the RFS to issue a Total Fire Ban for the Greater Hunter, which takes in Port Stephens.

Image shows road closures from the roundabout intersecting Richardson and Medowie roads. Picture: Live Traffic NSW

Image shows road closures from the roundabout intersecting Richardson and Medowie roads. Picture: Live Traffic NSW

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