Rural Fire Service (RFS) firefighters watch a helicopter
drop water in an attempt to extinguish a fire approaching
homes near the Blue Mountains suburb of Faulconbridge.
Leaders have praised the legions of firefighters and
residents who stared down NSW's 10-day bushfire crisis that is
only now easing.
But amid the camaraderie and consolation there were concerns
about bushfire burnout setting in - a full month out from
"It's just terrifying that we're sitting here in spring and
we've had all these hot fires," Blue Mountains Mayor Mark
Greenhill told AAP on Friday.
"There's still a lot of unburned bush and we've got the
height of summer to come."
His community has been hardest hit by the bushfire crisis
that began last week.
More than 200 local families have lost their homes and all
three of the blazes burning at a watch and act level on
Friday were in the mountains west of Sydney.
At Springwood in the mountains, what had been the most
destructive fire in the state was being controlled after
burning more than 3,300 hectares and.
Fires at Mount York and the State Mine Fire in Lithgow,
started by an army explosives exercise, were also being
brought under control.
Firefighters were patrolling and mopping up at Gateshead in
the Lake Macquarie area where a fire had threatened homes at
Dudley and Redhead, the RFS said.
More than 800 firefighters remained on the state's
firegrounds on Friday and just over 50 fires continued to
burn, but many interstate and metropolitan firefighters have
begun the long drive home.
Governor-General Quentin Bryce toured the charred lower Blue
Mountains suburbs of Winmalee and Springwood.
"Thank you for what you've done," she said, speaking not only
to locals but to the 2000-odd firefighters from across the
country who joined in the effort to save lives and homes in
Tributes flowed on Friday for pilot David Black, who died
when his aircraft crashed while fighting a fire at Wirritin
in Budawang National Park, west of Ulladulla.
His was the second life lost in the fires. A 63-year-old man
died defending his Central Coast home last Thursday.
Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said there was a sense of
hiatus at the Rural Fire Service (RFS) headquarters, but
dangerous fire weather could hit within days and dozens of
fires continued to burn across the state.
"The fact is it's going to take weeks, not days, to get
containment on all these fires," he told AAP.
"People do get fatigued - particularly when it's warning
after warning going out to the same communities."
No one should be under any illusion that the dire scenarios
predicted for Wednesday - like the fear that major fires
could merge to form a super fire spanning the Blue Mountains
- were over-hyped, he said.
Firefighters had worked "way beyond" the hours they would
ordinarily be allowed to put in, forgoing sleep to run risky
back-burning operations around the mountains in a bid to
"I genuinely did fear that we were going to lose people in
that fire," Mr Rogers said.
"The community tends to view the fact that we didn't have
mayhem and destruction by saying, 'Oh, well it didn't
"Well it didn't happen because a lot of people worked hard to
stop it happening."
The federal government has extended its Disaster Recovery
Payments of $1000 per adult and $400 per child to
bushfire-affected residents in the Wollondilly area,
southwest of Sydney.
The region was on emergency alert over the weekend as the
Hall Road fire raged, but the blaze has since been contained.
Two homes were lost in the fire.