Cool change eases bushfire crisis

Cooler and calmer weather has helped NSW firefighters strengthen containment lines around troublesome bush and grassfires, enabling warnings to be downgraded across the state.

At midday today 142 fires were still burning, 29 of them uncontained. But the Rural Fire Service (RFS) said the weather change from the searing temperatures and strong winds of yesterday is in firefighters’ favour, enabling all alerts to be wound back to just advice level by midday today.

This morning there were five watch and act alerts in place, including for the Warrumbungle fire near Coonabarabran in the north, where 51 homes have been destroyed and 54,000 hectares burnt through.

Two homes were lost yesterday in the Millingandi fire in the Bega Valley in the state’s south.

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers told reporters today the priorities now were to take advantage of the milder weather to reduce the number of fires and find and promptly tackle any new fires.

Today more than 1000 firefighters were battling blazes and reconnaissance flights were checking for new fires sparked by a lightning band that crossed the state yesterday.

An RFS spokesman said just before midday today that no homes were under threat but the Warrumbungle fire could threaten properties if the weather turned unfavourable again.

He said conditions were expected to ease further over coming days with firefighters taking advantage to consolidate and construct containment lines, while hoping for rain.

‘‘It’s pretty much all hands on deck and take advantage of some good weather while we’ve got it.’’

Other fires of concern being targeted were a grassfire near Boorowa in the state’s west, a bushfire at Aberdare near Cessnock in the Hunter Valley and the Deans Gap fire in the Shoalhaven.

Just north of Sydney, about 50 firefighters were battling a blaze in the Ku-ring-Gai Chase National Park which has burnt more than 200 hectares and closed access roads.

The fire was not threatening properties but campers at The Basin camping ground were taken out by ferry and smoke from the blaze was impacting Terrey Hills, the northern beaches and the north shore.

- AAP

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