During October 2013, approximately 100 fires burnt across eastern New South Wales, including six major bushfires. The most serious fires started in the Blue Mountains on 16 and 17 October.
The fires began on 13 October when strong winds and high temperatures caused a fire near Port Stephens and destroyed six houses. Several sheds and cars were also burnt and dozens of residents spent the night in evacuation centres. One person died at Lake Munmorah while protecting a home. Fires also occurred around the Hunter and Hawksbury regions. At the same time, more than 100 firefighters were fighting bushfires at Tangory Mountain, Webbs Creek, Wollemi National Park, the Southern Highlands and the Central Coast.
On 16 October, a defence training exercise at Marrangaroo near the Blue Mountains, accidently sparked a fire that became known as the ‘State Mine Fire’. It had a perimeter of 190km and eventually burnt nearly 46,000 hectares between Lithgow and Mt Tomah. At its most severe, the fire travelled 25 km per hour through bushland.
Thousands of people in Lithgow were evacuated and the communities of Bell, Bilpin, Berambing, Clarence, Dargan, Hartley Vale, Mount Wilson were also affected. The fire devastated the recently restored tourist attraction, Zig Zag Railway, with equipment and train carriages destroyed.
On 17 October two more major fires began in the lower Blue Mountains: one near Mt Victoria and the other at Springwood. Wimallee and Yellowrock were the worst affected communities with 193 homes destroyed and 100 damaged. Staff and patients at the Springwood Hospital were evacuated as a precaution. With the three fires burning uncontrollably in the Blue Mountains, on 18 October, Victoria sent fire crews and equipment to assist with the NSW firefighting efforts. A State of Emergency was announced for NSW on 20 October.
By 22 October the State Mine Fire had travelled south and was threatening to join up with the Mt Victoria Fire. The Rural Fire Service decided to deliberately allow the State Mine Fire to join the Mount Victoria Fire in a controlled way by managing fuel loads and back-burning to create firebreaks. While this was a high risk strategy, by 25 October cooler weather conditions allowed firefighters to bring the three Blue Mountains Fires under control. The fires were declared extinguished on 13 November. A total of approximately 118,000 hectares was burnt across the state.
A second person died on 24 October while piloting a water-bombing plane that crashed over Budawang National Park.
Financial assistance and grants were made to eligible NSW bushfire victims.
• Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment:
Claims granted: 1134
Scheduled dollars to be paid $982,800
• NSW Disaster Recovery Allowance:
Claims granted: 95
Scheduled dollars to be paid $42,543
• National disaster relief and recovery arrangements
provided funds to clean up bushfire related debris in the affected communities.
• $ 1.4 million was granted by the NSW government to make sites containing asbestos safe.
• A Blue Mountains Bushfire Mayoral Relief Fund was established to collect and distribute money.
Natural disaster relief and recovery arrangements were provided as a joint commonwealth and state / territory government initiative for local government areas.
The Insurance Council of Australia estimate the damage for the fires across NSW in October 2013 at $183,400,000.
Further information will be provided when it becomes available.
|$183 million||INSURED COST|
|EST. COST||$183 million|