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Former prime minister Tony Abbott (left) is seen with his Davidson Brigade as NSW Rural Fire Service crews battle a bush fire burning near houses along Lemon Tree Passage Road, in Salt Ash, NSW, Friday. Photo: AAP/Dan HimbrechtsFormer Prime Minister Tony Abbott is on the fire ground at Lemon Tree Passage Road, where he is working as a volunteer with the Davidson Brigade to fight the fires burning at Salt Ash.

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More than 180 firefighters were on the ground Friday working to bring the blaze under control.

The Davidson volunteer brigade was called up to Port Stephens at around 3.30pm Thursday.

LIVE: Immediate updates and fire warnings from the ground at Salt Ash

A firefighter attacks the blaze at Salt Ash on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

RFS Inspector Rolf Poole was on the fire ground and said crews were battling challenging, windy conditions to bring the fire to heel.

The fire was pushed toward Lemon Tree Passage and Rookes Road in the early morning under dry and windy conditions, prompting an escalated fire danger warning around 6.30am.

Crews have since been working in the area to control hotspots and to prevent the fire flaring up at the edges.

Firefighters have also taken positions along Nelson Bay Road where they were ready to protect properties as required.

Fire news:Residents say “you never get used” to the threat of fire

Meanwhile, a second fire has broken out to the north at Twelve Mile Creek.

Multiple crews and aircraft responded quickly to the grass fire, which was burning close to the roadside near the intersection of the Pacific Highway and The Buckets Way.

A NSW RFS spokesperson said they did not expect the fire to escalate, but that it would prove a “minor disruption” for crews as they work to contain the larger blaze burning at Salt Ash.

Traffic has been affected in both directions on the Pacific Highway, with smoke over the road and crews working near the road to bring the fire under control, the spokesperson said.

All northbound lanes were reopened around 2.40pm, but one of two southbound lanes remained closed due to the fire.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott (left) is seen with his Davidson Brigade as NSW Rural Fire Service crews battle a bush fire burning near houses along Lemon Tree Passage Road, in Salt Ash, NSW, Friday. Photo: AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Drivers have been urged to take care travelling in the area.

Meanwhile, to the south, both Richardson and Medowie roads have remained closed as the bushfire burns, and Nelson Bay Road has been closed after it opened under a reduced speed limit for a number of hours earlier Friday.

The closure of Nelson Bay Road means road access to Nelson Bay has been cut off.

Newcastle Herald

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