Weather may turn up heat on firefighters
By ALEX EASTON
THE battle to protect homes near a bushfire east of New Italy is likely to get nasty today as the weather turns hot and windy.
The 1000ha fire has already threatened homes on its north-west front.
Firefighters yesterday said they had beaten it back from within 30 metres of houses on Sunday night.
The 108 firefighters, backed by four helicopters, yesterday took advantage of the calm weather conditions to prepare for today's weather onslaught.
Rural Fire Service spokesman, Matt Inwood, said today was expected to be the sort of day firefighters dread: Temperatures into the high 30s, humidity below 10 per cent and north-westerly winds expected to reach more than 35km/h.
To prepare, firefighters spent yesterday building containment lines around the 1000 hectares.
They bulldozed a fire break along the northern front and burnt off from the new lines.
Firefighters and helicopters also worked to extinguish the edges of the blaze, and strengthen already-established containment lines.
The firefighters had come from around the NSW north coast.
They were being backed up by a small squad of Salvation Army volunteers who yesterday worked from 4am until about 8pm to keep the firefighters fed and watered.
Mr Inwood said the firefighters had made good progress yesterday, and the fire was expected to be completely contained last night.
But it was likely to contin- ue burning for up to two weeks.
The firefighters could only wait and see how today's weather shift would affect it.
High above the fire's northwestern front Tein McDonald and Graeme Little yesterday said they would be ready if the fire crossed the flats and marched up the hill to their Korinderie Ridge community.
Ms McDonald and Mr Little said the large community, set amid dense bushland, had worked out detailed fire plans aimed at protecting houses from bushfires and to fight fires when they arrived, or escape them safely.
That plan included long-term measures, such as reducing fuel loads around homes and in certain parts of the community, and by making sure the right people had the right equipment on hand when a fire arrived.