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Extreme weather keeps firefighters busy

Published: 10th August 2012

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) crews throughout the Greater Metropolitan Area have responded to more than 500 calls for help today as high winds brought down trees, roofs and powerlines and caused major damage to buildings throughout the region.

“FRNSW remains on high alert to assist the State Emergency Service (SES), with the high winds predicted to continue into this evening,” FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said.

Commissioner Mullins said FRNSW crews and communications centres have been kept busy, receiving more than 530 calls for assistance between 11am and 3pm today.

“Our firefighters have responded to incidents from Shell Harbour in the south to Port Stephens in the north as winds of up to 100km/hr buffeted the coast” he said.

“The peak of this afternoon’s wild weather saw our firefighters responding to 82 incidents at one stage.”

The bulk of incidents involved dislodged trees, wires, roofs and other structures, as well as some structure fires.

Some of the major incidents FRNSW attended were:

Greater Sydney Area

  • A 50mx20m roof collapse at St Paul’s Catholic College at Manly. Seven hundred people were evacuated and two people were injured. Fire crews secured the remaining roof structure.
  • Half the roof of a nine-storey building at North Sydney was blown off. Local fire crews secured the building.
  • A large shade structure/pergola at St Agnes’ Primary School Matraville became unstable and threatened to dislodge. Fire crews and NSW Police Rescue were called to stabilise the structure.

Central Coast & Hunter 

  • A roof of an Ettalong Beach house blew on to a nearby home. Umina firefighters assisted a distressed elderly woman who could not leave the home because of all the loose debris flying around.
  • A large section of roof came off a five-storey building at Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital.

“FRNSW will continue to support to the SES and other emergency services throughout this afternoon and this evening until the wild weather passes,” Commissioner Mullins said.

People requiring assistance for non life threatening situations should contact the SES on 132 500 but in all cases of emergency ring Triple Zero.