Firefighters work on containment lines as bushfires burn at Cabarita and Pottsville yesterday.
Firefighters work on containment lines as bushfires burn at Cabarita and Pottsville yesterday.

Arson suspected in bushfires

FIREFIGHTERS worked late into last night to contain a blaze in Cabarita Beach bushland which was one of five suspicious fires that burned along the Tweed Coast yesterday.

Tweed Rural Fire Service units were forced to co-ordinate the fight against two separate fire fronts simultaneously, after bushland south of Pottsville erupted in flames about 3.30pm, just half an hour after the Cabarita blaze began.

RFS Superintendent David Cook, manager of the Far North Coast region, said it would take a few days for the Cabarita fire to burn out and after that investigators would move in.

“We will be investigating these fires, there were numerous ignition points and some time delay between them, so all will be investigated,” Supt Cook said.

He said should it be an arsonist, the culprit was new on the scene.

“We haven’t experienced anything quite like this for some time.”

Sections of Tamarind Street were closed and holidaymakers were evacuated from the Tamarind Sands Resort yesterday afternoon as the flames moved within metres of property both sides of the street.

Mark Eglington, group captain of the Tweed Coast Rural Fire Service, emerged, sweating, from the bushland and said there was no doubt the fire was suspicious.

He said the current weather conditions meant no one should be lighting any fires on the Tweed.

“Three parts of New South Wales are under a total fire ban today, who knows why we aren’t. I have lived here all my life and these are the worst conditions I have seen for 50-odd years.”

While the Pottsville fire, which was alight in bushland along Tweed Coast Road just south of the town, was able to be contained fairly quickly, there was a lot of work to do for firefighters at Cabarita.

By 4.30pm the fire had expanded from about .8ha to 4.8ha and in total, 11 firefighting units worked at the scene.

After back burning was completed along the Tamarind Drive fire break, firefighters had to identify a northern containment line in the bushland in order to contain the fire.

Frank Zambelli, Burringbar Rural Fire Service group captain, said the Pottsville fires were able to be contained quickly.

Cpt Zamebelli’s wife, Therese, who is also a captain, required ambulance treatment after inhaling smoke.

“She and another guy, when they first got here, they did it hard,” Cpt Zambelli said.

Cpt Zambelli said the fires were suspicious, as embers would not have travelled that far.

“Somebody has been doing the wrong thing,” he said.

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