Four "highly suspicious" fires that threatened up to 70 properties and 50 houses across the Darwin rural area today are now contained and residents are returning home.
- One house was lost near Dorat Road before the fire was brought under control
- Crews are mopping up and fire spotters will remain to make sure the blazes are extinguished
- Bushfires NT described the fires as "highly suspicious"
Speaking to ABC Radio Darwin this afternoon, Andrew Turner from Bushfires NT advised that fires at Darwin River, Mala Plains, Berry Springs and Adelaide River had been contained.
While the damage has not yet been assessed at Mala Plains or Darwin River, he said a house and a shipping container were destroyed near Dorat Road at Adelaide River.
"I'm happy to announce that all four of those fires that we've been fighting today are now under control," he said.
"All of them have crews still working on them, mopping up and monitoring the situation, but they are all within containment lines.
"There may still be areas within the containment area that have fuel that is actively burning, so people may get home and still find some smouldering material and the like.
"That's the reason we require our fire spotters to remain working around through the property and making sure that all active fires are extinguished over the next few hours."
Residents can continue to track updates via the NT Fire Incident Map.
The spate of fires began early on Thursday morning, igniting at Dorat Road, near Adelaide River, and Mala Plains, near Berry Springs.
Residents were issued the highest level of emergency warning, and were told to enact their bushfire plans.
By the afternoon, fire crews were racing from Berry Springs to Meade Road, near Darwin River, and residents were issued the same severe warning.
At one stage 50 houses and 70 properties were under threat across the rural area.
A house and a shipping container were destroyed.
Mr Turner described their resources as "beyond stretched".
Fires 'highly suspicious'
Asked how the fires had started, Mr Turner told ABC NT Country Hour they were "highly suspicious".
"I would suggest that on such high fire ban days there aren't too many reasons why a naturally occurring fire would happen," he said.
He said Bushfires NT would be investigating "very closely".
Berry Springs area resident Bianca Nania said she had always lived in Darwin's rural area but this was the worst fire she had ever seen — as it was in her backyard.
"I was monitoring it and I had the sprinklers going and then before I knew it the wind picked up and the fire just practically came straight into the back paddock," she said.
"And I said, 'That's it get in the car, let's go, we've got to get out of here'.
"You don't muck around with fire."
While she said the experience was "pretty scary", she commended the fire crews for doing an "extraordinary job".
Meade Road resident Herbie Brearley was asked if he had ever experienced a fire in his area before.
"Three times this year so far. Seems to happen every day," he said.
"We got burnt out the bottom of the property that time two weeks ago. Now this one."
At least he was prepared when another warning was issued on Thursday.
"I've been jumping around everywhere, inside and outside," he said.
"I first saw the smoke, I don't know about 1:30pm. So my friend left me his water truck and we had that at the end of the block waiting."
Mala Plains resident Tammy Bartlett and her friend Sarah Mills were ordered to evacuate their rural property this morning.
They took their four children and pet dog to the nearby pub to wait it out.
After three hours they were given the all-clear to return home.
"It's a bit of a relief, glad the house is safe and the caravan is safe," she said.
"But at the end of the day, it's just materialistic stuff … we've got the little people here."
She said her two children were unfazed by the fire, and had spent the time playing dress-ups.
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