NSW Rural Fire Service crews called to lightning strike blazes

FIREFIGHTERS were sent scrambling after lightning strikes ignited fires across the region and a separate industrial blaze broke out.

A severe thunderstorm warning was issued on Monday afternoon and with it came thousands of lightning strikes which ignited fires near Billywillinga, Freemantle, Killongbutta, Turondale and the Root Hog Fire Trail.

NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Inspector Mick Holland said the lightning started grass and tree fires with many still smouldering.

On Tuesday morning 12,498 lighting strikes were recorded within 40 kilometres of Bathurst, with fires igniting in trees at Georges Plains, Black Springs and a four hectare blaze in Dark Corner.

Also, at 1.05am on Tuesday RFS and Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) crews were called to the Highland Pine Products factory in Oberon after a blaze ignited in a wood chip storage facility.

FRNSW Inspector Steven Evans said the fire smouldered for a long time, but was eventually extinguished after four hours.

He said while the fire caused little structural damage and it did not appear suspicious, it was however under investigation.

Inspector Holland said overnight rain hampered firefighters’ efforts in locating other blazes that were ignited by lightning strikes.

While rain will dampen any grass on fire, he said the trees and logs hit by lightning could smoulder for up to a week and then ignite surrounding areas once they had dried out.