Fire stalks Albury

HOURS after homes on Nail Can Hill were in danger of being wiped out by a bushfire, a second blaze broke out above East Albury last night.

Firefighters said the Eastern Hill bushfire was “very suspicious”.

They said it was only as a result of favourable conditions and the fact so many crews were on hand that they were able to contain it so quickly.

About a hectare of bush was burnt on the corner of Walsh Street and East Street.

Earlier, in late afternoon, a fast-moving fire roared towards Forrest Hill homes bordering Nail Can Hill’s bushland and erupted in a cloud of black smoke and ash.

Firefighters fully expected homes to be lost.

The fire burned up backyards on Yambla 

Avenue and flicked out ambers that crossed the road to start spot fires near a second line of properties.

Police are yet to say whether that incident was considered suspicious.

Yambla Avenue resident Adrian McKelvie was one of the first to face the flames.

Click or flick across for more pictures

Click or flick across for more pictures

PICTURE: Jasmine Boehm

PICTURE: Jasmine Boehm

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

Smoke billows from behind Yambla Avenue properties. PICTURE: Matthew Smithwick.

Smoke billows from behind Yambla Avenue properties. PICTURE: Matthew Smithwick.

A Yambla Avenue resident uses a garden hose to wet down her property. PICTURE: Matthew Smithwick

A Yambla Avenue resident uses a garden hose to wet down her property. PICTURE: Matthew Smithwick

PICTURE: Jasmine Boehm

PICTURE: Jasmine Boehm

PICTURE: Jasmine Boehm

PICTURE: Jasmine Boehm

Border Mail reporter Aisha Dow on the scene: "You can see how close the #alburyfire got to the back fences of properties at Yambla Ave."

Border Mail reporter Aisha Dow on the scene: "You can see how close the #alburyfire got to the back fences of properties at Yambla Ave."

Picture tweeted by Albury Civic fire captain John Vandeven.

Picture tweeted by Albury Civic fire captain John Vandeven.

Picture tweeted by Albury Civic fire captain John Vandeven.

Picture tweeted by Albury Civic fire captain John Vandeven.

PICTURE: Tweeted to @bordermail by Kelvin Davies (@kewinator)

PICTURE: Tweeted to @bordermail by Kelvin Davies (@kewinator)

Yambla Avenue residents congregated as thick smoke billowed from behind their homes.

Yambla Avenue residents congregated as thick smoke billowed from behind their homes.

Looking down into Yambla Avenue.

Looking down into Yambla Avenue.

PICTURE: Nick Russell.

PICTURE: Nick Russell.

PICTURE: John Chanter.

PICTURE: John Chanter.

PICTURE: Tweeted to @bordermail by Lucas Wittingslow (@iDudeMan)

PICTURE: Tweeted to @bordermail by Lucas Wittingslow (@iDudeMan)

Black smoke hovered over Albury. PICTURE: Kylie Duryea.

Black smoke hovered over Albury. PICTURE: Kylie Duryea.

Two helicopters have helped contain the fire. PICTURE Kylie Duryea.

Two helicopters have helped contain the fire. PICTURE Kylie Duryea.

Photo tweeted to @bordermail by MelissaAnne (@_Melissa_Anne_): "here are some fire pics from monument hill direction."

Photo tweeted to @bordermail by MelissaAnne (@_Melissa_Anne_): "here are some fire pics from monument hill direction."

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

PICTURE: Matthew Smitwick.

He met up with two neighbours who were already hooking up the street’s small community fire unit, a red trailer that sits behind their back fences.

Mr McKelvie said the flames were so high they had stretched above the gums and the smoke so thick they were forced to reach for their goggles.

Spot fires sparked up in his backyard and he and his wife, Catherine, sent their three teenage children and dog away.

Then they began seriously considering whether they should drop everything and go.

Mr McKelvie doesn’t know how his home was saved from the worst fire he’d experienced in his 17 years on the hill.

“I really thought it was going to make it to the house,” he said.

It seems luck, good planning and a fast response from the community crew and firefighters all helped avert a disaster.

NSW Rural Fire Service duty officer Julie Bartlett said the area was in an asset-protection zone, which means long grass and other fire hazards had been monitored.

Being a holiday period, more people were at home in Yambla Avenue to keep an eye on things.

One woman noticed a towel had burst into flames on her balcony and acted quickly.

With no clear cause, fire investigators will probe the likely cause today.