CLOSE CALL: Rural fire crews and police were called to contain and investigate a suspicious bushfire near Nimbin yesterday.
CLOSE CALL: Rural fire crews and police were called to contain and investigate a suspicious bushfire near Nimbin yesterday. Jay Cronan

Suspicious fire endangers lives

A SMALL shack and a caravan burnt to the ground when a fire believed to have been deliberately lit swept across four hectares of bushland at Nimbin Rocks yesterday.

One family was forced to evacuate, but allowed to return shortly after. However, the situation could have been much worse had the fire spread in the rugged Nimbin scrub.

“It is just so dry at the moment,” NSW Rural Fire Service group officer Robbie Graham said.

“But luckily there are a lot of roads around this area, which act as firebreaks.

“And the wind wasn't too bad. If it had been going the other way, we'd still be chasing the fire down the other side of the mountain.”

Local residents have praised the actions of the fire crews.

One property owner, who did not want to be named, said it was 'bloody lucky the whole mountain didn't burn'.

Andy Keen, who also lives in the area, said police gave him the option to evacuate.

“We chose to stay. The firies' response was just fantastic,” he said.

It is believed the blaze started about 1.45pm and it was completely put out by 5.30pm, thanks to the efforts of five Rural Fire Service crews involving 12 firefighters.

Mr Graham said residents had tried to put out the fire themselves before calling for help.

“But the fire obviously got out of control,” he said.

“It was 33 degrees and the humidity was very low. We are the fourth-driest area in the State.”

Police have slammed those who may have been responsible for the blaze, saying they had put lives in danger.

Inspector Michael Heap, from the Lismore police station, confirmed the fire was being treated as suspicious.

“Obviously this has put other people in danger - residents and the firefighters - so we will be putting every effort into this investigation,” he said.

“Anyone who has information about this fire is urged to call the Nimbin or Lismore police stations, or Crime Stoppers.”

Another fire which threatened homes near Brooms Head, on the Clarence, is now under control, according to the RFS.

Firefighters have also contained a bushfire which burnt out 80 hectares of the Bungawalbin National Park, near Coraki.

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GALLERY: Burnt out fire truck

premium_icon GALLERY: Burnt out fire truck

The RFS truck will probably be written off.

"Someone could have been injured or killed"

premium_icon "Someone could have been injured or killed"

An RFS crew sheltered in their truck as the grass fire overcame them

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