Firefighters battle fresh outbreak

A LARGE shed was razed to the ground in a fresh outbreak yesterday at Pretty Gully, just south of containment lines close to Paddys Flat, near Old Bonalbo.

Firefighters working on the major back-burning operation were diverted to fight the new blaze from spreading into populated areas and protect properties under threat. Police were also called to assist.

Three helicopters worked to water bomb the blaze, while 12 firefighters using three tankers mopped up.

Northern Rivers Rural Fire Service manager, Inspector Michael Brett, said firefighters were waiting for a bulldozer last night to put in a containment line so they could black out the fire and get back to the main operation.

“Generally the Paddys Flat containment operation is proceeding well,” he said.

Firefighters have been working around the clock to take advantage of cooler conditions before the hot weather and north-westerly winds return later this week.

They have successfully reclaimed containment lines in the Eight Mile gold mine area that were breached by spot fires last Friday.

Since Friday, firefighters have been working to bring under control about 17 fires with a major back-burn along a 10 kilometre containment line just north of Pretty Gully and Paddys Flat.

The back-burn will prevent fires getting away into Yabbra National Park, where a tourist lodge and a major communications tower would be at risk. The operation is close to completion despite light rain hindering the operation yesterday.

“The light showers only slowed us down for about half a day,” Insp Brett said.

“The drought factor is still 10 out of 10, so by lunchtime it had all dried out.”

Insp Brett said more incendiary bombs were dropped from the air to speed the burn.

“We are hoping to wrap up operations by Friday before the hot weather arrives,” he said.

Sixty to 70 firefighters from the Rural Fire Service, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and State Forests have been involved in the week-long operation, also involving four helicopters helping with water-bombing and surveying activities.

About 13,000 hectares have been burnt out by the fires so far.

Last night was the first night crews had been stood down, with no night shift required.

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