Several helicopters had to rescue about fifty schoolgirls trapped by bush fires in a national park near Sydney, Australia on Wednesday (5 December).
SV AND GV Fire blazing through eucalyptus trees south of Sydney, New South Wales (3 shots)
GV Trees on fire (2 shots)
GV ZOOM TO SV Firemen rolling out hoses from fire engines
GV PAN AND SV Firemen fighting fire beside road while fire rages through gum trees
GV Firemen on tender
SV AND GV Fire blazing on wide front (3 shots)
SCU Fireman being treated after collapsing with exhaustion
SV ZOOM TO CU Ambulance with man standing beside it breathing from oxygen bottle
TC Road near Australian Atomic Energy Commission research establishment at Menai with fire and smoke nearby, and sign indicating research establishment (2 shots)
GV PAN Fire with smoke across road
AV Fire fronts ringing research establishment (3 shots)
SV Schoolgirls standing in clearing
SV Helicopter landing in clearing
GV Schoolgirls running to helicopters landing to rescue them (4 shots)
AV Firemen on ground as helicopter takes off
SCU Girl being given oxygen by ambulance driver
SV Young girl recovering on ground beside ambulance
SV PAN Teacher counting pupils
TRANSCRIPT: MATHESON: "Somehow, fire officials knew that today was going to realise their worst fears. And as temperatures soared into the 30s (centigrade, ... the high 80s fahrenheit) bushland on Sydney's southern outskirts simply exploded. Before long fires were raging unchecked over a wide area threatening several suburbs.
Scores of professional fire fighters rushed in to battle the blazes but additional manpower was needed so volunteers joined in. Conditions were made worse when strong southerlies whipped up the flames. At times they raced perilously close to homes at Engadine.
One major outbreak at Menai posed a serious problem when fire jumped the Waianora (phonetic) River. Brigades managed to save houses but it was exhausting work. Searing heat took its took and men collapsed from sheer exhaustion.
Ambulance stood by to treat others with oxygen.
Then at the height of the drama, the unexpected. Suddenly the wind changed direction sending flames racing toward the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor. Police moved in, closing Ilawarra Road which leads to the site.
From the air the fires could easily be seen ringing the establishment. Extra units were sent in to try to head it iff. Fears increased when flames got to within a kilometre (half a mile) of the site. However, quick work prevented the fire getting any closer.
But close by, police discovered that a party of fifty schoolgirls were missing and feared trapped inside Royal National Park. They were told the girls, from Mary Immaculate College, Sutherland, had gone into the area this morning on an end of the year excursion with their teachers. Police helicopters spotted them at a place called Carloo Pools (phonetic) but with the fire closing in quick action was needed, and there was only one way to bring them out: by helicopter.
Police brought the first group to safety at Heathcote Park.
Some were hysterical after their ordeal. Ambulancemen comforted them and at least one was taken to Sutherland Hospital."
REPORTER: BARRY MATHESON
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Several helicopters had to rescue about fifty schoolgirls trapped by bush fires in a national park near Sydney, Australia on Wednesday (5 December). The girls had been cut off by the flames during a walking tour. In the fires which raged over a wide area, two men died, and an Australian Atomic Energy Commission research establishment was threatened. This report from Barry Matheson of Sydney's Channel Nine.