PROTECING LIVES: The RFS have managed to contain the fire which closed the Bruxner Hwy at Tabulam but have warned residents all fire permits have been cancelled and they must avoid burning off until substantial rain has fallen.
PROTECING LIVES: The RFS have managed to contain the fire which closed the Bruxner Hwy at Tabulam but have warned residents all fire permits have been cancelled and they must avoid burning off until substantial rain has fallen. Marc Stapelberg

Firefighters beg 'put away matches'

"WE ARE pleading with all Northern Rivers residents to put away their matches until we get substantial rain."

A blunt message from Rural Fire Service Superintendent Michael Brett, who said he's appalled people are still burning off, despite the alleged cause of the Tabulam fires which have so far ripped through nearly 8000ha, destroying five homes.

Supt Brett said all permits, except those for essential agricultural purposes are suspended.

"We are now reviewing agricultural permits," he said.

"Thorough ignorance or otherwise people are still lighting fires which is very frustrating and it's incumbent on all landholders to be aware of conditions and their responsibilities."

Sup Brett said firefighters from the RFS, Fire & Rescue NSW, Forestry and National Parks are working cohesively.

He said Tuesday's relatively benign conditions are expected to worsen tomorrow.

"We'll see elevated temperatures in the mid-to-high 30s today," he said

Sup Brett said according to the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), almost 200mm of rain is needed before permits can re-issued.

He said the KBDI value which reflects the dryness of the top layer of soils, deep forest litter, logs and living vegetation runs from 0 to 200.

"We are currently ranked at the most extreme value of 190 to 200, which means we need 200mm of rain to return the soil to saturation," he said.

"As of Monday night we had fully contained the Tabulam fire and now we are aggressively mopping up and patrolling to ensure containment lines remain."

He said in the last 24 hours firefighters undertook a 6km backburn to ensure the Tabulam and Wallnagar fires near Tenterfield did not meet to become a horrendous super-fire.

"Everyone has been working 24 hours around the clock doing a great job," he said.

"We also really appreciated the assistance of the Queensland fire-fighters."

"We are in a better place than today than yesterday."

Supt Brett said around 20 fire trucks and upwards 60 personnel were at the Tabulam fire today, while at Wallangar in the Tenterfield area 29,000ha been burned and there are 30 to 40 trucks and 150 to 180 personnel.



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