Barrenjoey Headland Bushfire

Fire has burnt out scrub and bushland on Barrenjoey Headland in Sydney’s north, known for its use in the television drama series ‘Home and Away’. 2 buildings at the Barrenjoey lighthouse complex sustained damage but no other property damage or injuries were reported.

Around 2pm on Saturday 28th September, fire crews from NSW Fire & Rescue and NSW Rural Fire Service were responded to reports of a bushfire below the lighthouse. Images posted on social media showed a small but fierce fire burning with a strong easterly wind blowing. The fire grew rapidly and arriving firefighters were immediately concerned with the safety of bush walkers and fisherman in the area. An Emergency Warning was issued for the fire.

Some 80 firefighters were dispatched with boats and helicopters involved in the incident. Boats were immediately tasked with checking on people who may have been stuck on rocks around the headland, with a small number being taken to safety. Helicopters undertook water bombing operations on the fire. With only a small walking trail and narrow vehicle track to the top, firefighters travelled on foot and utilised an ATV from the Surf Lifesaving club to move equipment to the top of the hill where the lighthouse and associated buildings were under threat.

Firefighters who had reached the buildings called for immediate assistance, with smoke coming from a building’s roof. Firefighters in breathing apparatus worked their way into the roofspace where roofing beams had caught fire. Embers had travelled in through very small gaps between flashing and roof sheets, igniting the roof beams. Fortunately firefighters were able to limit the spread of fire, though repairs will be needed.

Also at the lighthouse buildings, a number of visitors to the headland had gathered for safety. NSW Rural Fire Service sent emergency alert messages to mobile telephones in the area instructing anyone on the headland to seek refuge there, with paths back to the car park too dangerous to travel on. Those gathered were later transported to safety below. By around 4pm, the Emergency Warning advice had been downgraded to ‘Watch and Act’.

@kaitlynpejkovic posted this on Instagram http://instagram.com/p/e0ws7VHcnl/

After a tense afternoon, crews who were involved in the initial firefight were replaced by incoming night crews. The main concern became a number of buildings at the northern end of the western beach. The fire was continuing to travel above these buildings having already burned the entire eastern headland. Firefighters ensured safe lines were established around these buildings and monitored the fire, allowing it to burn to control lines. Meanwhile a crew was tasked with monitoring the lighthouse and associated buildings overnight, with embers still being of concern.

Arrived @ Barrenjoey #bushfire for night shift. Still burning well on the west.

A post shared by Kyle (@liveitseeit) on

Firefighters who’d been in attendance overnight were welcomed to the new day with a glorious sunrise, revealing the extent of bushland burned and able to assess the scene completely. A National Parks helicopter was brought in to assess the scene from above. Fire Investigators assessed the scene, but unable to find a definitive cause the NSW RFS stated the fire was suspicious. On Sunday the fire was further downgraded to ‘Advice’ level and the scene was later handed back to National Parks & Wildlife staff.

More photos from overnight at the fire, and sunrise from Barrenjoey head are HERE

Dawn from Barrenjoey lighthouse overlooking Palm Beach

Dawn from Barrenjoey lighthouse

Dawn from Barrenjoey lighthouse observed by firefighters

Dawn from Barrenjoey lighthouse shows the fire still burning on the western side of the headland. Foregound shows some of the equipment used to protect the buildings

Sunrise allows us to see the area of roofing damaged by fire. Embers penetrated the very small gaps between the flashing and roof, then setting roof beams alight. Firefighters broke through the ceiling wearing breathing apparatus to reach the fire and prevent further damage, saving the historical buildings.

Parkair 4 (helicopter) was brought in the next morning to observe the fire impact


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