RFS aircraft continue to call Taree home

One of the Fireboss Air Tractors that has been used in the bush fire fighting effort. Photo supplied by NSW RFS.
One of the Fireboss Air Tractors that has been used in the bush fire fighting effort. Photo supplied by NSW RFS.

Manning Valley residents have witnessed a sky filled with fire fighting aircraft as the NSW Rural Fire Service utilise the Taree airport as a base of operations.

Since the worse of the bushfires hit the region in early November, there has been a varying number of aircrafts calling the Taree and Port Macquarie airports home. These airports have been a location for the aircraft and crew to set down, refuel and rest overnight.

According to Stuart Robb from the NSW RFS at the peak of the fires, there were more than 20 aircraft using the Taree and Port Macquarie airstrips.

Mainly landing and taking off at dusk and dawn, aircraft lovers would have been able to see Fireboss Air Tractors, Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT) and helicopters equipped with water dropping devices. There have also been large air tankers used in the region over the last couple of months to drop fire retardant, however, these are too big to land at either Taree or Port Macqaurie.

As of Monday, December 30 that number has dropped off considerably, with only four SEATs and a few helicopters continuing to call Taree home.

Water bombing helicopter. Photo courtesy of NSW Rural Fire Service.

Water bombing helicopter. Photo courtesy of NSW Rural Fire Service.

Mr Robb said the number of aerial support aircraft stationed in the region is dependent on the fire activity and what is needed in the field, and this continues to vary with each passing day.

On the fire front, as of Monday, three aircraft are being used on the Ridge 400 fire at Woko National Park, north west of Gloucester. The fire is under control, has so far burnt out 1780 hectares and is in very dense terrain where ground crews are unable to access. One aircraft is being used at Wattley Hill, east of Bulahdelah where the fire is under control and has burnt 150 hectares.

Mr Robb said crews are working to help reduce the intensity of the fires, slow down the burn and set up containment lines.