NSW bushfires: Homes at risk as winds fan fires across NSW
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Residents in several towns in northern NSW are being asked to evacuate as three out-of-control fires sparked emergency warnings and dry and windy conditions fanned huge flames on firefronts.
The NSW RFS issued the warnings on Friday morning for the fires at Gulf Road, Torrington, Hillville Road, Hillville near Taree and Bills Crossing in Crowdy.
At 1.30pm, the Hillville fire had jumped the Pacific Hwy and was spreading quickly towards Rainbow Flat, Diamond Beach and Possum Brush.
The fire at Torrington, near Tenterfield, is almost 18,000 hectares in size and is burning to the west of Silent Grove Road as firefighters battle the blaze ahead of worsening conditions predicted later in the day.
The Hillville fire is blazing out of control across more than 1000ha and heading in an easterly direction towards several homes.
The fire at Bills Crossing, which hit emergency levels just before lunch, covers more than 2000ha and is being controlled but just metres from dozens of homes.
The Tenterfield fire is also burning in the path of nearby homes.
People in the areas of Torrington, Silent Grove, Wolfram Hill, Tungsten, Maids Valley and Mole River are being advised to seek shelter as the fire approaches. The fire at Hillville, on the NSW mid-north coast, is burning on the western side of the Pacific Highway, north of Possum Brush and south of Rainbow Flat as well as in the Talawahl Nature Reserve.
Rainbow Flat resident Betty Connery has her car packed and is ready to evacuate as the Hillville fire approaches her home.
She said there were a lot of properties in Possum Brush and Kiwarrak where the fire was currently burning.
Those people, including Mrs Connery, have been sent emergency text messages telling them to evacuate to Tuncurry.
She was waiting to see if the fire heads closer to her as it had to jump the Pacific Hwy to reach her home.
“I am worried about it, I can see smoke but not fire yet,” she said.
“When it started yesterday, it was 13km from where I am and it is getting closer now.”
Mrs Connery has lived on her 70 hectare property for nearly 40 years and never seen fires like this.
“We had big fires two weeks ago when the fire was about 4km from where I am and we were just lucky the wind didn’t come for us,” she said.
“There have been massive fires everywhere for the past two weeks because it is so dry and we have had strong winds for months.”
Gusty conditions continue to fan flames across the state with winds set to hit 80km/h in some parts and range from 30-45km/h in others.
Firefighters continue to battle up to 70 fires burning across the NSW mid-north coast while in Sydney, temperatures are set to hit 30C on Friday afternoon.
Rob Rogers, deputy commissioner of the Rural Fire Service told 2GB that residents near Hillville and Tenterfield should leave sooner rather than later with conditions set to worsen in the afternoon.
“The fire is starting to pick up. It really is starting to accelerate… Rainbow Flat is quite a populated area so we have a lot of concern there,” he said.
“There will be horrendous conditions this afternoon so it’s going to be tough for firefighters.”
Gabrielle Woodhouse, duty forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said Friday’s winds
are set to ease in the evening and through the weekend before picking up again on Monday, sparking further fire warnings.
The RFS has advised those who are in the area of Coates Trail and Road and Possum Brush and who plan to leave to leave now and head towards Tuncurry.
NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons on Friday said the bushfire danger across the state is “at the upper end of the scale” as strong westerly winds fan flames.
At midnight, 69 bush and grass fires continue to burn with 27 still yet to be contained. Total fire bans remain in place for parts of northern and eastern NSW today due to Extreme, Severe and Very High fire dangers forecast. This could prove challenging for firefighters #nswrfs pic.twitter.com/mwFKVoOfgt
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) November 7, 2019
Eight “watch and act” alerts are currently in place at Gum Scrub near Port Macquarie, Stockyard Flat, near Walcha, Rumba Dump near Taree and Liberation Trail, Muck Creek near Coffs Harbour, Washpool State Forest, Coombadjha, Old Glen Innes Rd, Newton Boyd and Fortescue Creek.
The Liberation Trail fire is currently burning across 7000ha out of control while the 3340ha Muck Creek blaze is being controlled.
“We need people to be absolutely prepared – we need them to be monitoring local radio, the (RFS) website,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.
“The entire corner of northeast NSW is really vulnerable, simply because of the extraordinary fire behaviour and activity yesterday and overnight.
NSW Rural Fire Inspector Ben Shepherd said multiple fires would combine and continue to head east towards properties on the mid-coast.
“The focus will be from the mid-coast to the border and especially those ones we have got that are uncontained this morning,” he said.
“It looks like it is going to be a problematic day as some of these will combine and continue burning east.”
The RFS said strong westerly winds were blowing dust across much of the state’s northeast, and the Central Coast and Newcastle areas were likely to endure hazy conditions over the coming days.
“These strong winds are driving up fire dangers. Important today to stay up to date, review your bush fire survival plan and know what you will do if threatened by fire,” the RFS said on Twitter.
Originally published as Towns told to evacuate as winds lash bushfire fronts