Firefighters have been given presents at a special Christmas breakfast before heading out for another “challenging” day of strengthening NSW bushfire containment lines.
NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons visited crews on Christmas morning at Colo High School on Sydney’s northwestern outskirts.
“This morning we caught up with crews who were coming in for a wonderful Christmas breakfast before they get out in the field and continue with this really difficult, challenging work of consolidating and establishing containment lines,” he told the ABC.
“People have recognised that a lot of firefighters are going without so there are piles of presents under the Christmas tree for them.
“The trucks will be loaded up a bit more today with these expressions of love and support and admiration.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was also out visiting firefighters on Christmas Day, singling them out in a recorded Christmas message.
“This year we think about our drought-impacted communities across the state and, of course, those communities hit hardest by those bushfires,” she said.
“Thank you to the thousands of volunteers, the thousands of emergency services personnel, who are risking their own lives and property to save others.”
Ms Berejiklian also paid tribute to RFS volunteers Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer, who were killed last Thursday while fighting fires.
“In particular, we think about the families of Geoff and Andrew, the two brave heroes who lost their lives saving the life and property of others.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in his Christmas message released on Tuesday, also gave his thanks to firefighters.
The Bureau of Meteorology says some firegrounds in NSW received much-needed rain yesterday and today.
“Generally speaking we saw some significant rainfalls across eastern and northeastern NSW on Tuesday,” duty forecaster Rose Barr told AAP.
“Today we’ve seen some shower and thunderstorm activity on the coast.
“Obviously we have a very broad area affected by bushfires. Fires on the mid north coast, northern rivers and eastern slopes regions will have seen some rain, although those totals can be quite localised.”
Most of coastal NSW is under “low-moderate” fire risk, while only one region – the northwestern region – is deemed at “very high” risk.
There are no total fire bans in place. The NSW government’s previously declared state of emergency, granting special powers to Mr Fitzsimmons, will expire tonight.
This morning were some 74 bushfires burning across the state, with almost 30 of those uncontained.
There were more than 1700 firefighters in the field on Christmas Day.
At least 873 NSW homes have been destroyed this fire season, while another 353 homes in NSW have been damaged.
A further 100 homes are also believed to have been lost since Thursday, but they’re yet to be assessed due to limited RFS access.