UNPRECEDENTED FIRE DANGER: 'The rainforest is burning'
WHAT WE KNOW:
- State of Emergency declared
- Statewide Total Fire Ban is in place
- Mt Nardi fire: Watch & Act, out of control, impacting areas around Terania Creek, Tuntable Ck, Tuntable Falls, Huonbrook, Federal, Upper Coopers Creek, Koonyum Creek and surrounds
- Bora Ridge fire: Advice level, being controlled, two homes lost, 4 hospitalised with smoke inhalation
- Wardell fire: Advice level, under control
- Torrington fire: Watch & Act, being controlled
- Border Trail, Woodenbong, Advice level, out of control.
UPDATE Monday 5.56pm: RESIDENTS are asked to conserve water during the current severe fire and weather conditions
Rous County Council asked the community to be especially mindful of their water use considering bushfires in the region and worsening weather conditions forecast for Tuesday November 12.
To support firefighting and essential services, the council urges people at home to conserve water as much as possible for the next 48 hours.
Rous County Council General Manager Phillip Rudd said: "Considering the current bushfire situation at Mount Nardi National Park and the worsening weather conditions that are forecast tomorrow, we're asking the community to please use water conservatively for the next 48 hours. Reducing water demand in the system will help support firefighting and other essential services".
The council continues to monitor the situation and will keep the community updated with any new information with regards to water supply.
UPDATE 4.44pm: TEMPERATURES are set to soar tomorrow with the Bureau of Meterology forecasting tops of 39C for Casino, 35C for Lismore and 31C in Byron Bay.
Winds are expected northerly 15 to 20 km/h tending northwesterly 20 to 30 km/h in the morning then turning north to northeasterly in the afternoon.
UPDATE 1.40pm: THE sheer size and scale of the Mt Nardi bushfire has not been seen since 1964, a crowd of about 600 to 800 people packed into the Mullumbimby Civic Hall heard today.
"Rainforest was burning", according to RFS Superintendent Bryan Daley amid unprecedented fire conditions that include high temperatures, low humidity, strengthening winds and high fuel load.
He urged the crowd to prepare their homes, enact their bushfire survival plans, and if they were going to leave, then leave early.
"The Mt Nardi fire started on Friday, November 8 and is believed to be a re ignition from a lightning strike at the beginning of October," he said.
"Over the last couple of days the fires we have been experiencing across NSW have been unprecedented.
"I'm told that a fire of this magnitude has not been seen in Mt Nardi since 1964."
Supt Daly said severe weather on the way Tuesday would bring the fire down from the mountain and in the valleys.
He warned communities living adjacent to the national park were particularly vulnerable including Goonengerry, Upper Wilsons Creek, Main Arm, Wanganui and Koonyum.
Northerly winds up to 30kmh were expected to push the Mt Nardi fire down the range on the Byron Shire side of the slope tomorrow.
Therefore evacuation centres have been set up at the Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club and the Cavanbah Centre in Byron Bay.
These centres will be open for business from 2pm today.
Those residents expecting to go there should register their details with the Red Cross so emergency services can keep a track of them during this fire emergency.
Police Chief Inspector Matt Kehoe also addressed today's meeting in Mullumbimby and didn't mince his words.
"We are talking about a clear and present danger tomorrow," he said.
"If you don't need to stay, then residents should leave as soon as possible."
Special efforts have been made to protect a "state significant" telecommunications facility atop Mt Nardi.
RFS Regional Operations Manager Bryan Daly said the 737 water bomber had painted the towers there with fire retardant over several runs.
Crews had been working overtime to clear vegetation around the towers which are considered highly important.
He said consideration was also being given to basing a crew there to protect the facility but only if it was safe to do so.
Meanwhile, residents returning to homes and properties damaged by bushfires are being warned of the risk of potential asbestos fibres.
The Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia has warned that a high proportion of homes built before 1987 contain asbestos products, while the use of asbestos fibro sheeting was particularly prevalent in farm sheds and outbuildings.
ADFA president Barry Robson said the intense heat from bushfires often shatters bonded asbestos products, allowing the deadly fibres to mix with ash and other debris and become airborne.
"As people return to their homes it is a natural instinct to search through the remains for cherished possessions that may have survived the blaze, but it is essential that people protect themselves and their families from potential dangers," Mr Robson said.
"Intense fires cause asbestos materials to break up, meaning the deadly fibres are set free and can easily become airborne when disturbed.
Mr Robson said suitable asbestos masks and disposable suits could be purchased from most major hardware stores, while thoroughly watering down the debris will also limit the risk of asbestos fibres becoming airborne due to wind or other disturbance.
"If your home was more than 30 years old, or there were sheds or other farm buildings of that age, it is always best to assume that they may have contained asbestos products until proven otherwise," he said.
UPDATE 12.56pm: CREWS are working tirelessly to assist the Tuntable community and surrounding regions, as bush fires continue to blaze
Rural Fire Service Northern Rivers Superintendent Michael Brett said emergency services were working alongside the Tuntable community to protect properties and fighting the fires from Wallace Road.
"We've got resources working with locals protecting assets as the fire is steadily coming down the hill," he said.
He added that crews were also further north trying to control Mt Nardi fires.
"They're on the walking trail, they're knocking it over and slowing it down, as it progresses to the north," Supt Brett said.
While weather conditions aren't ideal, Supt Brett said today was all about preparing for the catastrophic conditions forecast for tomorrow.
"Today is a big planning day as we're making sure we have resources to handle tomorrow's predictions," he said.
"Temperatures are in the high 20s and low 30s today.
"The winds are variable, they're not that great but they aren't too bad.
"Visibility is very bad for aircraft and crews to see where they are."
Supt Brett warned people who did not have a bush fire survival plan should leave their properties now.
"If your property is unprepared or undefendable you need to be out of there, you don't want to be there," he said.
"If your home is defendable and your mentally and physically prepared, then we're happy to be working alongside those people,
"If you're not 100 per cent prepared, get out."
UPDATE, 10am: NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has warned residents to leave sooner rather than later to avoid "anxiety".
"Leaving early is a safest option," Mr Fitzsimmons said.
"Life is at risk when it comes to catastrophic conditions.
"We cannot guarantee a fire truck at every home.
"We cannot guarantee an aircraft will be overhead every time a fire is at your property.
"We cannot guarantee someone will knock on the door to give you the warning that a fire is nearby.
"We certainly cannot guarantee, despite our best efforts we cannot guarantee that the technological tools will be available (to get) you a message in time.
"Under catastrophic conditions the safest thing you can do is not be in an at risk area."
"Not being there is clearly the safest option.
After a state-wide emergency was issued this morning, Mr Fitzsimmons said people needed to be vigilant and be prepared to leave at any moment as conditions worsen.
"We continue to have more than 60 fires burning across NSW and more than half of them are uncontained," he said.
"Ten of them are at the watch and act alert leave.
"We can expect to see the alert levels increase on a number of these fires in northern NSW.
"The conditions are still extremely dry, the fire behaviour is still quite volatile
"There are still a lot of communities in the north east that remain at risk today.
"Conditions could change and could change quite easily today.
NSW Premier Gladys Berijiklian said everyone needed to listen to emergency warnings.
"The commissioner has the government's full support, that's why we've declared a state of emergency," she said.
"We'll assess the situation at the conclusion at the end of the seven days.
"When something is determined to be catastrophic, there is a high degree of unpredictability.
"Everybody has to be on alert no matter where you are."
UPDATE 9.24am: A SECOND evacuation centre has now opened at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre at 50 Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah for fire-affected residents from Tuntable Falls and Terania Creek.
The Nimbin Evacuation Centre at the Nimbin Showgrounds also remains open.
People who evacuate are urged to register https://register.redcross.org.au so your family and friends know you are safe.
UPDATE 8.03am: AS THE Mt Nardi bushfire continues to roar out of control, burning more than 2230ha in its wake and threatening nearby communities, fire-fighters are urging people to leave early.
It is understood the Nimbin Showgrounds still have plenty of room for anyone needing to evacuate their family, belonging and animals.
State Emergency Services Deputy Zone Commander Superintendent, Northern Zone Mark Somers said their members would be assisting with evacuation centres.
"We will have a presence where requested by disaster welfare and will be there with volunteers available such as at GSAC in Goonellabah today," he said.
At 6.5am today the RFS reported that the Mt Nardi fire was back to Watch and Act.
A bush fire is burning in the Mount Nardi National Park area. The fire is 2,200 hectares in size and is out of control.
A fire is burning in the Mount Nardi National Park. Conditions are easing across the fireground.
The fire is not yet contained. The immediate threat to homes has eased.
The fire is burning on multiple fronts towards Tuntable Falls Road in the south, and Huonbrook in the east.
If you are in the area of Tuntable Falls, Terania Creek Road and Terania Creek, monitor conditions.
Check and follow your Bush Fire Survival Plan. If you do not have a plan, decide what you will do if the situation changes. Leaving early is your safest option.
Rummery Park campground is closed.
Evacuation Centres and School Closures
An evacuation centre open overnight on Sunday 10 November is at Nimbin Showground - 33-37 Cecil Street, Nimbin.
People are encouraged to register online at Register Find Reunite before attending evacuation centres.
For a list of school closures on Monday November 11 visit https://education.nsw.gov.au/public-schools/school-safety.
Worsening weather conditions on Tuesday November 12 will see areas across the state with severe, extreme and catastrophic fire danger. These are very dangerous conditions. Visit the NSW RFS website for more details.
If your life is at risk, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.
Continue to stay up to date with the bush fire situation by checking http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au, listening to your local radio station or by calling the NSW RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.
If you live in the area but are away from home, it may not be safe to return to your property.
For information on road closures, check http://livetraffic.rta.nsw.gov.au. Roads may be closed without warning.
The next update on this fire will be issued by 11/11/2019 09:00 or if the situation changes.
UPDATE 7.40am: A STATEWIDE total fire ban is now in force. That means no fires out in the open anywhere in NSW, for all of Monday and Tuesday.
Very dangerous fire conditions are forecast for Tuesday. Catastrophic fire danger is expected in Sydney and the Hunter. Avoid bush fire prone areas.
Severe and Extreme fire danger is forecast for many areas, including the north coast where there's already a significant number of fires burning. Under tomorrow's weather conditions, these fires will spread quickly and threaten lives and properties.
Use today to get ready and know what you will do to reduce your risk.
If you're in the areas of Huonbrook, Mullumbimby, Koonyum Range, Main Arm, Upper Main Arm, Goonengerry, Wilsons Creek, Wanganui, Federal and Surrounds, a community meeting will be held today to update you on the bush fire situation.
The meeting is at 11am at Mullumbimby Memorial Hall at 55 Dalley St, Mullumbimby.
UPDATE 10.36pm: THE Mt Nardi fire is at Watch & Act level but is still burning out of control.
Conditions can change rapidly, so please monitor warnings on Fires Near Me.
The Channon Public School, Nimbin Central School, Coffee Camp Public School, Barkers Vale Public School, Tuntable Crekk School, Tuntable Falls Community College and Rainbow Ridge school are all closed tomorrow (Monday).
Residents are advised to be ready to leave if advised.
Firefighters are in high spirits, working to contain fires from the air and on the ground. 10th Nov 2019 9:03 AM | Updated: 3:24 PM