ONE RFS volunteer who turned up for his shift at the Shoalhaven Emergency Control Centre on Albatross Road for today’s shift stood out from the others.
Not because of his appearance – he was wearing the yellow trousers like everyone else, but because he was being chased by cameramen.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott arrived in Nowra along with other crew members from his Davidson Rural Fire Brigade in northern Sydney.
Davidson was not the only out-of-area brigade to offer its services today to help fight the Deans Gap fire, which has now burned out 4000 hectares.
Six strike force crews joined all available local firefighters in their efforts to create containment lines on the eastern side of the Princes Highway while weather conditions remain advantageous.
Four bulldozers, up to 150 firefighters and 21 trucks were in the field today, assisted by aerial support.
The fire, which is still listed as out of control, is also burning on the western side of the highway, with authorities concentrating their efforts in areas close to residents.
The RFS’s Brett Loughlin said overnight 125 firefighters took advantage of the hours after the westerly wind dropped, focusing primarily on property protection.
Active firefighting also took place in any locations that could be accessed.
The firefighters have been working in 12-hour shifts to help contain the fire which now has a 44km perimeter.
Mr Loughlin thanked all Shoalhaven employers who had allowed employees who were RFS and SES volunteers join the effort.
“A big thank-you to the hundreds of businesses who have let their workers go,” he said. “It leaves them short-handed and they are not compensated for that.”
A “watch and act” status still applies to Sussex Inlet.
Mr Loughlin also said he was very happy with the public’s response to Tuesday’s catastrophic fire warning.
“People understand that we don’t say ‘catastrophic’ lightly.”
Overnight, an estimated 1200 people took shelter in four evacuation centres at Bomaderry, Sussex Inlet and Ulladulla.
Earlier today acting Incident Controller Mark Williams said the fire danger was “definitely not over”.
He warned of high temperatures forecast in the coming days with temperatures up to 35 degrees on Saturday.
Some weather predictions are also forecasting another heat wave around next Tuesday, with no rain in sight.
Mr Williams again urged residents to prepare their properties and make a bush fire survival plan now with hot weather forecast for later in the week.
While the Princes Highway was reopened around 1pm, parts of the road, and Sussex Inlet Road, will be closed on and off for short periods as authorities respond to spot incidents.
Motorists need to be aware there is a strict 60km/h speed limit in the area and that there are a large number of firefighting vehicles using the highway in this location.
Long delays are reportedly being experienced.