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16 April 2018, 09:32 | Israel Caldwell
Homes threatened as bushfire burns near southwest Sydney
New South Wales fire crews spent a second long night taking advantage of cooler conditions to back burn and protect homes in the Holsworthy area.
"We have had reports of impact on properties in west Menai and Barden Ridge but our crews at the moment are exclusively focused on fighting the fire", he told AAP in the evening.
"Residents around that area should monitor the situation, take advice from firefighters in the area and know what they'll do if fire threatens", he said.
The NSW Rural Fire Service has downgraded the threat level to "Advice", but urged residents to remain vigilant and to continue monitoring conditions.
RFS spokesman Greg Allan said on Sunday some properties had been damaged.
Fire conditions eased later in the day, allowing firefighters to step up efforts to bring the blaze under control. Several residents report fighting off embers with hoses and water buckets.
Some remembered bad bushfires in the 1990s when homes were destroyed, and were determined to stay and extinguish embers or spot fires as they broke out.
"I can't believe homes were not lost in this fire", said RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, praising the work of firefighters and residents who followed their bushfire survival plan.
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On the weekend, residents hosed down their houses and lawns to prevent embers sparking new blazes ahead of the advancing fire front.
The grass fire began in Casula on Saturday afternoon and quickly spread through Moorebank, Wattle Grove, Holsworthy, Menai and Heathcote.
"Yesterday we had over 500 firefighters working on the fire and that has been scaled down overnight to 250 firefighters still working on the ground", he told Network Seven.
Over the weekend the blaze was declared an emergency a number of times but was downgraded to watch and act when winds dropped down to around 15 to 25 kilometres per hour.
There's also a risk that winds could also pick up to 35km/h later today.
"Waterbombing aircraft have been utilised throughout the afternoon while it has been light and they've been able to do so".
"When you add on to that the unseasonably hot couple of weeks we came into autumn and into the month of April, we were talking about temperatures well and truly in the 30s (degrees Celsius), which were unprecedented", Fitzsimmons said.
Fire investigators were still working to determine the cause of the fire, but Mr Fitzsimmons said it was most likely deliberately lit.
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