The fire that set Tabulam bridge alight, closed the Bruxner Highway and put the township of Tabulam under threat over the weekend has been brought under control.
NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers themselves had a close call on the weekend while fighting the fire. Superintendent Chris Wallbridge said the serious incident occurred at 1pm on Saturday, August 18.
“RFS volunteers were called to Plains Station Road and upon arrival found a very fast moving fire between Plains Station Road and Bruxner Highway,” Superintendent Wallbridge said.
The fire moved quickly under very dry and windy conditions burning out over 400 hectares and jumping the Clarence River.
"With properties under threat, firefighters from the Tabulam Brigade moved into position to action property protection when the wind increased dramatically and threatened the Tabulam Fire Appliance.
“The crew on board drew on their training for this type of situation. There were no firefighters injured, but the Category 7 Tanker was extensively damaged.”
Superintendent Wallbridge said it was a reminder of the dedication of NSW RFS volunteers.
“While we should all be proud of their commitment, the community should also recognise the support of the volunteers’ families and employers.”
In addition to the damage to the RFS fire truck an estimated 175ha of land was burnt out in the deliberately-lit fire, which destroyed fences, power poles and sheds.
The RFS responded with five ground crews and five aircraft while residents of the Tabulam township were put on standby for evacuation.
The Bruxner Highway was closed when the Tabulam Bridge caught alight, but the fire was brought under control about 6pm that night.
Investigators from the Richmond Police District initiated inquiries and arrested a 14-year-old boy.
He was initially conveyed to Tabulam Police Station but due to the fire, the station had no power or internet facilities so he was taken to Casino Police Station and charged with intentionally causing fire and being reckless as to its spread, and leaving the fire lit/used in open air without extinguishing it.
The boy was granted conditional bail to attend a children's court on Wednesday, September 5.
This is the second significant fire in the Tabulam area this week. A 52-year-old man remains before the courts charged over a fire which destroyed 12ha of bushland about 3pm on Wednesday, August 15.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.