Encore for "Thor" during bushfire season

Issued: 9 December 2016

The Large Air Tanker 'Thor' will remain in NSW into the new year to assist firefighters on the ground amid predictions of challenging months ahead.

Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott today announced the NSW Government had extended the contract for the Hercules C130 to stay for another month until mid-January 2017.

'Thor' has a cruise speed of 545km/h and is able to reach any fire in NSW within an hour. It joins the Very Large Air Tanker 'Southern Belle' and the NSW Rural Fire Service's (NSW RFS) firefighting force of more than 100 aircraft.

"This decision was a no-brainer," Mr Elliott said. "We have more than 70,000 NSW RFS volunteers ready to respond when bush fires threaten lives and property. Now 'Thor' can continue to assist them and other firefighters in both the initial attack of new fires and in building containment lines."

So far this fire season, 'Thor' has assisted firefighters at blazes in Cranebrook, Londonderry, Bega, Lower Hunter and the Shoalhaven. Last season, 'Thor' completed 96 flight operations, dropping close to 1.5 million litres of water and fire retardant.

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said having support from 'Thor' was vital ahead of weather conditions predicted for this summer.

"There is an increased grass fire threat this fire season," Commissioner Fitzsimmons said. "With the Bureau of Meteorology predicting a dryer and warmer summer, we're encouraging everyone to make sure they take the steps needed to prepare their families, homes and properties from fire risk.

"While the assistance of our aircraft is highly valuable, we can not underestimate the importance of residents having a well prepared property and making a bush fire survival plan."

The NSW Government has invested $9.8 million in the trial of 'Thor' and 'Southern Belle' over two years to help fight bush fires.