A hazard reduction burn around North Head on Sydney’s northern beaches which jumped containment lines has prompted the evacuation of nearby residents.

New South Wales police said in a statement on Saturday that commercial premises and residential properties around North Head had been evacuated.

A huge fire seen from the Manly Ferry service burns at North Head on Saturday night.
A huge fire seen from the Manly Ferry service burns at North Head on Saturday night. Photograph: James D Morgan/Getty Images

Those still in their homes were advised to remain inside with their windows shut until told otherwise, while others were told to avoid the area.

The hazard reduction burn jumped containment lines about 2pm on Saturday.

The Rural Fire Service said the fire was under control and no homes were under threat, but upgraded the blaze to “watch and act” level just after 4pm on Saturday.

It was burning to the south-west, fuelled by north-easterly winds.

The RFS in a statement said it was on the scene at the 10-hectare blaze, as well as Fire and Rescue NSW crews and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

A spokesman for Fire and Rescue told Guardian Australia: “There have been 60 to 70 evacuations.”

The national heritage-listed Third Quarantine Cemetery – established in 1881 for victims of a smallpox epidemic – was not impacted by the fire. A spokesperson for National Parks and Wildlife Service told Guardian Australia on Sunday that the cemetery “was protected by a zone of reduced fuel load as a result of a hazard reduction burn completed by NPWS in September 2020”.

The NPWS spokesperson said: “Fire agencies always have contingency plans for potential spot overs. Approximately 100 firefighters were on hand to manage this burn, with support from three helicopters for aerial observation and water bucketing capability, if required. These contingencies meant NPWS, Fire and Rescue NSW and NSW Rural Fire Service were able to quickly bring the fire under control overnight.”

On Sunday afternoon emergency crews were still at North Head. Authorities said they planned to return on Monday “to patrol the area and conduct mopping-up operations”.





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