GRASS FIRE: Strong winds meant a fire lit by a man to keep warm near Brunswick Heads got out of control and Fire & Rescue crews were called to extinguish the blaze.
GRASS FIRE: Strong winds meant a fire lit by a man to keep warm near Brunswick Heads got out of control and Fire & Rescue crews were called to extinguish the blaze. Fire & Rescue NSW

Illegal campfire burns out of control

A HOMELESS man whose campfire got out of control suffered from smoke inhalation on Thursday morning.

Strong winds saw the campfire spread to eventually burn around 2ha of bush, but no-one was seriously injured.

Fire & Rescue New South Wales duty commander Brad Harrison, said two crews from Brunswick Heads attended the incident which was started when a man in his 20s who was sleeping rough lit a fire to keep warm.

Mr Harrison said the Rural Fire Service were later called to assist at the South Beach Rd incident.

"Two Fire & Rescue crews from Brunswick Heads extinguished a fire which had set bush alight near the surf club,” he said.

"I think he (the homeless man) had a fire to keep warm and it got away in the wind this morning.

"It's really sad as the man involved in this one is in his early 20s, he suffered smoke inhalation and was treated by ambulance staff.”

Mr Harrison said there were 10 firefighters and two appliances at the scene.

"We had a pumper and pumper-tanker our firefighters had extinguished the fire by 10am,” he said.

"This is not the first time this has occurred as we are seeing many more itinerant people camping in the bush between the road and the beach near facilities from Ballina all the way up to the Tweed, it's an ongoing problem on the coast up here.”

Mr Harrison said he was unsure about how the police who also attended along with National Parks rangers, will proceed with the matter.

"I'm not sure if they will charge the young fellow,” he said.

"These fires build up very quickly and we still have to be vigilant.”

A Fire & Rescue NSW spokesman said their first crew arrived at the scene shortly before 8.15am.

He said it appeared a camp fire had burnt out of control and when crews arrived, it had spread through a number of spot fires.

"We then called on additional assistance from the RFS,” he said.

"That fire escalated from a wind change.”

RFS crews worked on a back-burn from about 10am, while Fire & Rescue NSW crews worked behind them to black out the burnt areas.

He said the fire was mostly extinguished about 10.30am, but crews returned to again douse some smouldering logs later on.