TWO Dalmeny campers are being credited by firefighters and police as averting a possible disaster after putting out a suspicious fire just north of Narooma.
The fire broke out in scrub about 500 metres up Dalmeny Beach at about 3pm last Wednesday, when beachgoers first noticed puffs of smoke.
The day happened to be a total fire ban day and tensions were high given the ongoing bushfires at Brogo, Cooma and Nowra.
Corey Karl, who grew up in Dalmeny, and his mate Mick Lyon from Wagga Wagga, were alerted when the fire engine from the Dalmeny Rural Fire Service brigade drove into the campground responding to reports of smoke.
While the Dalmeny RFS crew sped off to see if they could access the fire from the Brou Lake side, the pair decided to run up the beach to attack the fire themselves.
The two men and their families have camped at Dalmeny for the past seven years.
They discovered a fire had spread from an apparent campfire and had already spread to around 15-square-metres in the blustery conditions.
They used sheoak branches to “whack” down the fire preventing it from spreading any further in what is the Eurobodalla National Park.
Dalmeny RFS Captain Mick Anderson and his crew arrived at the fire scene a short time later after having to hike in down the beach because of a lack of access from inland.
He called the two men heroes and said without them the fire could have taken a hold, at worst threatening the town of Dalmeny.
There were suspicions that the fire could have been arson, based on items found at the campfire.
Detectives from Batemans Bay interviewed at the scene the two campers, the firefighters and National Parks rangers that also responded to the fire.
Detective Inspector Kevin McNeill however said based on the investigation, police now believed the fire was not arson but rather it was a campfire that had possibly been smouldering for some days.
“It was good work by all involved and as always we urge the public to be vigilant for any outbreaks of fire,” Inspector McNeill said.
Whoever lit the campfire, assuming they did light it several days previous to the fire bans, were apparently not doing anything wrong in terms of having a fire, although not extinguishing a campfire is an offence.
National Parks area manager Tony Baxter said the area where the fire broke out was recognised as an informal camping area.
The fire possibly started before total fire bans were in effect, but when the bans did exist there were no fires at all allowed in national parks, he said.
There was another potential near miss when local swimmers attending Brush Beach just south of Potato Point also noticed and put out themselves a smouldering log on Monday morning.
This fire also from an unattended or abandoned campfire was not reported to National Parks, but Mr Baxter said rangers and staff did attend that area later that day to warn people of the park closure and fire danger.