TOUGH SLOG: Volunteer rural firefighter Ian Leckie, of Tuncester, takes a brief break from filling the planes used to water bom
TOUGH SLOG: Volunteer rural firefighter Ian Leckie, of Tuncester, takes a brief break from filling the planes used to water bom

Weary firefighters winning battle

By HELEN JACK and EMMA O'NEILL

EVANS HEAD aerodrome became one of the busiest airports in the country yesterday.

Because of the bushfire in the Bundjalung National Park, there was a take-off and landing by a water-dropping aircraft every 15 minutes.

On each load 3000 litres of water was dumped on the fire which is still burning in inaccessible parts of the park.

Rural fire fighting volunteer at Tuncester, Ian Leckie, spent most of the day filling the aircraft.

"These planes can get to places that fire trucks can't. Also they drop fire retardant in places to prevent fires spreading," he said.

The tactic seems to be working. Late yesterday the fire, which had already burnt out 2500ha, had moved towards Redgate Road, but was not a direct threat to homes in the area.

It was not expected to intensify overnight. A predicted northerly change today is expected to help fire-fighters put an end to it..

NSW Rural Fire Service controller Michael Brett said the fire jumped Gap Road yesterday but homes in the Serendipity, Korrindiri Ridge and Gap Road area were not under direct threat.

"Our efforts are on protecting this area," he said. "Backburning operations south of Evans Head have been successful."

Woodburn Street near the bridge, Evans Road and Bundjalung Street remain closed to general traffic.

The Gumma Garra picnic area and Black Rocks camping ground also stay closed.

RFS spokeswoman Heather Lloyd said the southerly change forced the service to consolidate containment lines around Evans Head.

"The southerly is blowing smoke towards Casino and we have had a lot of calls from people concerned there is another fire broken out, but it's still the same fire," she said. "The fire is increasing in size. The southerly will cool things down, but what we really need is rain," she said.

"This is a slow-burning fire and the inaccessible terrain is making fighting it so difficult.

"Extra RFS units have moved to the Redgate Road area and the fire is not expected to cross containment lines."



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