Fires near me: State of Emergency declared, 20 spot fires burn in Tamworth district from lightning strikes


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FIREFIGHTERS are at breaking point with a third State of Emergency declared. By Thursday afternoon, Tamworth Rural Fire Service volunteers faced up to 20 spot fires sparked by thunderstorms overnight. Tamworth RFS Superintendent Allyn Purkiss said he’d “lost count” of the lightning strikes wreaking havoc across the district. Catastrophic fire conditions are predicted for Saturday with hundreds of people already displaced or evacuating parts of the south coast. Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the handover of government powers to the RFS Commissioner late Thursday afternoon. “Declaring this State of Emergency is vital to the safety of communities in NSW as we face the most devastating bushfire season in living memory,” she said. The State of Emergency gives the RFS Commissioner the power to direct any government agency, control government resources, evacuate people from property, close roads and demolish infrastructure. The Rural Fire Service’s “already stretched resources” have been stretched even further as lightning strikes sparked up new fires overnight. As of this morning, eight lightning strikes had been reported to the RFS and Tamworth Rural Fire Service superintendent Allyn Purkiss expected more to be found throughout the day. “[Lightning strikes are] always a concern, they’re stretching our already stretched resources,” Mr Purkiss said. “We don’t need any more fire in the landscape if we can help it so we’re going to try and jump on those as quickly as we can.” READ ALSO: One of those lightning strikes hit close to Hanging Rock which is already in danger with the Pearson Trail and Pages Creek fires burning nearby. “The whole village could see [the strike] so that was very concerning for them but luckily they had a little storm that came past just after the fire started and quietened that down,” Mr Purkiss said. Crews also attended the fire last night to make sure it was contained. The main concern for firefighters today is the Pearson Trail fire which is not contained at the end closest to Hanging Rock. The northern end of the Pages Creek was contained yesterday but would need to be “watched like a hawk”. Mr Purkiss said conditions were favourable for firefighters to be able to set up more containment lines today. “The conditions aren’t too bad for the next few days. The wind is swirling and moving a little bit but resources is probably our biggest issue,” Mr Purkiss said. “Just trying to get enough people on the ground to be able put in these backburns.” A meeting was held with Hanging Rock and Nundle communities was held on New Year’s Eve to warn those who aren’t comfortably able to help themselves in an emergency situation to leave while they can. “If their bush fire survival plan was to not stay and defend, then we said to follow that plan,” Mr Purkiss said. The storms that rolled through the region brought little respite in terms of rain. Tamworth Airport reported just 0.2mm of rain while some residents reported a couple of millimetres of rain in town. Head to https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/fires-near-me for up to date information on fires burning across the state.

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