A bush fire which has been burning in the Nabiac area since last Thursday, August 7, has been downgraded to patrol by the Rural Fire Service (RFS),
More than 1660ha of both National Park and private property had been burnt, but no livestock or structures had been lost in the fire.
MidCoast RFS district officer, Stuart Robb said the cause of the fire was under investigation.
He explained the RFS had four stages of a bush fire – out of control, controlled, contained and patrolled.
Mr Robb said patrolled meant the fire had been dealt with but there could be some internal burning.
“It will have crews driving the perimeter to ensure it behaves,” Mr Robb said.
About 30 brigades, including two water bombing helicopters, from throughout the MidCoast from Port Macquarie to Tea Gardens and out to Gloucester have been involved in the operation.
The fire was burning around TAFE NSW’s Civil Construction Training Facility, Nabiac.
Site supervisor, Nick Casper has given an assurance that at no time was a group of men attending a Certificate III in civil construction at the site in any danger
Last Friday, August 8 the group of 20 TAFE students were advised to remain on-site while the bush fire burnt around the 12ha facility.
Mr Casper said the RFS said it was the safest place to be.
But, the RFS said we could go if we wished, he said.
“We were never at risk,” he said.
“Maybe if they left the site at the same time there could have been panic.”
He said the training ground was large and open and included a dam which was well used by the fire trucks.
The men at one stage were moved into a shed to escape the smoke, but when the shed filled with smoke, they moved back into the open.
However, some of the men felt anxious and uncomfortable in the situation.
One of the men, who didn’t want to be identified said: “We were not allowed to leave as they (RFS) were blocking the road.
“We were told to move to the middle of the field until they thought it was safe to leave.”
“They blocked the road and told everyone to move their cars to the centre of the field.
“Not only that they had traffic control at the start of the dirt road. They should have let us leave first.”
The men left the site at approximately 3.50pm.