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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told the Port Macquarie News that he believes firefighters are brave and effective in coping with the catastrophic bushfires burning across New South Wales.
Mr Morrison, NSW Premier Gladys Berejeklian, NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott, Lyne MP Dr David Gillespie, Port Macquarie member Leslie Williams, Port Macquarie-Hastings Mayor Peta Pinson and Deputy Mayor Lisa Intemann visited the Rural Fire Service headquarters in Wauchope on Sunday, November 10. They praised firefighters from all agencies and were briefed on the current situation.
Three people have died and more than 150 homes have been destroyed in bushfires over the past few days. The Rural Fire Service fears these numbers could rise, and are bracing themselves for even worse bushfire conditions on Tuesday.
Speaking exclusively to the Port Macquarie News, the Prime Minister said the firefighters here are very brave and very courageous and Mr Morrison had this message for the people of the Mid North Coast:
"They have available to them the best firefighters in the world, well coordinated with effort coming from around the country to be there to support them, and they can have a lot of confidence in the operations I have seen here today."
Incident controller Kam Baker told the politicians that the fire activity is in a very broad geographical area.
"In my 40 years in the Rural Fire Service, I have never seen this landscape in such a dire situation in relation to fuel moisture, deficiency in rainfall, and we haven't stopped in our firefighting effort since January.
"We have multiple fires that have impacted our very large coastal towns and villages, places like Forster-Tuncurry, Hallidays Point, Old Bar, Harrington, Johns River, and potentially Laurieton and Dunbogan," said Mr Baker.
"The Crestwood fire south of Port Macquarie impacted Lake Cathie and Lake Innes, and had the potential to go all the way to Laurieton."
He spoke of unprecedented fire behaviour, including the Coombes Gap/Mount Seaview fire. A lot of the fires were started by lightning.
Some of these fires will continue to burn. They will impact property. They will impact lives.RFS Incident Controller Kam Baker
"We are faced with another very severe fire day on Tuesday," warned Mr Baker.
"Some of these fires will continue to burn. They will impact property, they will impact lives and that is very much our focus now. It's at our forefront now, warning the communities, getting them on the front foot to be prepared. Our local communities have really heeded warnings really well."
The Prime Minister agreed with Mr Baker that it was incredible that so many properties have been saved.
"Our local crews are very tired, fatigued from working 24 hours a day. The important thing is that we try and leave our local crews in their stations, looking after their communities. This is an awful situation and it's not going to change until we see some rain," said Mr Baker.
The visit was interrupted briefly by a protest by environmental activists.
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