BACK-BURN: Byron Bay Rural Fire Service volunteers working on property fire containment near Mullumbimby yesterday.
BACK-BURN: Byron Bay Rural Fire Service volunteers working on property fire containment near Mullumbimby yesterday. Doug Eaton

Bushfire threatens Mullumbimby

FAMILIES were yesterday fleeing their homes as fire-fighters battled to contain a bushfire burning west of Mullumbimby.

The fire started around 10.30 on Monday night and, by late yesterday, had burnt out more than 76ha on either side of Koonyum Range Road, threatening numerous homes along the way.

Long-time resident Piara Leibo, who runs a bed-and-breakfast in the area, fled her home in the early hours of Tuesday morning to ensure her two children, aged four and nine, were taken to safety.

“It started just near here at our neighbour's place,” Ms Leibo said as she kept an eye on the smouldering bushland surrounding her home.

“We all evacuated with the kids.”

Ms Leibo who, with her husband, only last year finished building their dream home along the ridge, said all the nearby families with children had fled initially, but many of the parents had returned to protect their homes.

“Our neighbour was fighting the fire with the fire-fighters all night to save his house,” she said.

“It really started raging up our way and started burning up all the bush.”

By yesterday afternoon there were 11 fire tankers, two bulldozers, two planes, one helicopter, three National Parks and Wildlife Service crews, and 38 fire-fighters working to contain the fire as it burnt through steep terrain and was fanned by strong winds.

Far North Coast Rural Fire Service manager David Cook said containment lines and back-burning would go some way to bringing the blaze under control, but he expected it to continue burning for some days.

“I would say it will go for quite a few days,” he said.

Fire-fighters had been working hard to protect homes and none had been lost by late yesterday afternoon.

One fire-fighter yesterday suffered smoke inhalation, but no other injuries had been recorded.

The unseasonal heat and wind also fanned the flames of three fires near Kyogle yesterday, as well as another larger blaze at Tenterfield.



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