Catastrophic fires unleash on the region

NSW RFS: Crew members from Cumberland Stike Team take a well earned rest after  fighting a large grass fire burning towards Wollar. Photo: Wolter Peeters.

NSW RFS: Crew members from Cumberland Stike Team take a well earned rest after fighting a large grass fire burning towards Wollar. Photo: Wolter Peeters.

Fire near Uarbry. Photo: Contributed

Fire near Uarbry. Photo: Contributed

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) continue to battle blazes across the region, as the devastation from the weekend is tallied up.

An initial assessment of areas affected by bush fires show a total of 19 homes have been confirmed destroyed across the state, with the majority in the Central West.

Smoke from the Sir Ivan fire east of Dunedoo, seen from Coolah, on Sunday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Smoke from the Sir Ivan fire east of Dunedoo, seen from Coolah, on Sunday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Sir Ivan Fire (Warrumbungle) – 20 percent of area has been assessed – 12 homes destroyed (including five at Uarbry), one home damaged, one church destroyed, 15 outbuildings destroyed.

The assessment of the Sir Ivan fire and Binalong Road fires is continuing. 

Cattle and smoke near the Sir Ivan fire. Photo: Dean Sewell

Cattle and smoke near the Sir Ivan fire. Photo: Dean Sewell

The assessment of the White Cedars Road, Kains Flat fire has not yet commenced due to the current fire conditions.

The Kains Flat fire has burnt more than 5000 hectares. Crews are currently working alongside heavy plant and aircraft to strengthen containment lines.

Significantly challenging and dangerous fire conditions to the north and east of Gulgong. Photo: Fire and Rescue NSW Station 312 Gulgong

Significantly challenging and dangerous fire conditions to the north and east of Gulgong. Photo: Fire and Rescue NSW Station 312 Gulgong

The Department of Primary Industries has also advised there is also extensive loss of stock, machinery and fencing.

Firefighters are among those to lose homes in the Sir Ivan Fire, NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has confirmed.

“One of our captains in that local area was a resident of Uarbry. He was out fighting the fires and he has come back to find that his home is destroyed.”

“Over the weekend, the catastrophic conditions as they were forecast indeed materialised. We saw widespread catastrophic conditions starting out as early as mid-to-late morning in some parts and extending right through to the very late afternoon,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

“Of course we’ve got those five areas that went to emergency warning alert status and multiple, numerous different emergency alerts were sent to areas directly affected with different tailored messaging based on their particular risk and what we were advising them to do given the threat of that fire.”

He said two firefighters had been injured: one near Mudgee suffering severe lacerations to the hand, and one near Boggabri hospitalised with serious burns. 

“The minister [Troy Grant] mentioned that one of the fires at Dunedoo is 50,000 hectares at the moment,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

“That fire is likely to grow in size as they implement the full suite of containment strategies.

“By way of perspective the current active edge around that fire is around 200 kilometres. That’s a lot of edge for firefighters to deal with and to seek to bring under control.”

Emotions were “all over the place” as about 400 people attended a community meeting at Coolah Sporting Club on Monday morning.

Warrumbungle Shire Mayor Peter Shinton said NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), NSW Police, and council personnel were all present to bring the community up-to-speed on the Sir Ivan Fire.

Coolah Sporting Club has also served as an evacuation centre, but Cr Shinton said everybody had a bed.

“Emotions are all over the place. I think this is going to be a fire that’s going to leave a mark, not only on the community but on the economy as well.”

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