Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Firefighters focus on Central Coast -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

SCOTT BEVAN: Firefighters are focusing much of their effort on a 1,500 hectare scrub fire burning out of control on the Central Coast and southern Lake Macquarie.

Well, Jodi Harrison is the Mayor of Lake Macquarie and she's toured the affected areas this morning and she joins us now on the line.

Madam Mayor, thanks very much for you time. Can you tell us what you have seen this morning and your reaction?

JODI HARRISON: I spent some time driving along the Pacific Highway which is actually closed at the moment between the Central Coast and southern Lake Macquarie. There are still obviously near the... near the road still flames. There is a huge amount of smoke and still lots of risk.

SCOTT BEVAN: What's the extent of property damage, property loss that you have seen and that you have been advised of?

JODI HARRISON: I've been advised that there has, that's been confirmed, that four houses in the heritage village of Catherine Hill Bay have been lost. Wallarah House which is a beautiful mine managers residence has been lost.

There is currently a fire on Catherine Hill Bay jetty.

SCOTT BEVAN: On the historic jetty?

JODI HARRISON: Yes, that's right, the historic jetty is currently on fire.

SCOTT BEVAN: On the other side of this road of the Pacific Highway, on the lake side, there are a couple of lakeside villages, a string of lakeside villages, that were also apparently at threat - Cams Wharf, Nords Wharf - what's the latest in regard to them?

JODI HARRISON: The main area of concern from the Rural Fire Service point of view is Catherine Hill Bay. However on the other side, on the lake side, residents from Nords Wharf and Cams Wharf have been evacuated.

The Rural Fire Service have advised it is not forced evacuation, however police are recommending that people leave their homes, and Rural Fire Service is certainly working very hard on protecting property. But they've also started back burning for containment of fires.

SCOTT BEVAN: Jodi Harrison, there have been reports, we've heard reports that people have been evacuated from some of these lakeside communities by boat and being taken to an evacuation centre in the township of Swansea. Can you confirm that and tell us a little about this evacuation centre?

JODI HARRISON: I can't confirm the evacuation by boat at all. The fire control centre are certainly have not organised anything so whether people are choosing to use their own boats, maybe that is what is happening.

I've certainly been in the evacuation centre and spoken to residents of Murray's Beach, which is on the lake side of the Pacific Highway, and they claim they have seen boats evacuating people, but that is certainly not confirmed by any official organisations that I'm aware of.

SCOTT BEVAN: And Madam Mayor, given the area being fought here, the bushland being fought and the difficulty in reaching some of these areas being caught between the bush and the sea, have you got the resources, are the resources in place to fight this through today and into the near future?

JODI HARRISON: There have been five... five fire squads move into the area to fight, back burn and protect property. I've just received notification that the warning has been reduced from emergency to watch and act which is, to a certain extent, comforting, but it went from emergency to watch and act overnight as well, so it's very changeable. However, the fire control centre are able to be working on back burning now which is great.

SCOTT BEVAN: Mayor of Lake Macquarie, Jodi Harrison. Thank you very much for your time.

JODI HARRISON: Thanks Scott.