MUCH of the Northern Rivers was again shrouded in smoke yesterday as fires continued to burn out of control.
The Mount Lion fire, north of Kyogle, picked up intensity, burning through 950 hectares of rugged country.
The Rural Fire Service has been fighting this fire around the clock for three days. It is expected to take a further three days to burn out.
Late yesterday, fires in the Tenterfield area were causing spot fires on the western edge of the Kyogle Shire, where there are thousands of hectares of timber plantations.
RFS Superintendent Rodney Brown said the large number of plantations in the area was of serious concern to the service.
“State Forests has quite an investment of hardwood and softwood timber in that area,” he Brown said.
Another major player with 30,000ha of timber plantation in Northern NSW is Forest Enterprises Australia. It was bringing in three extra fire fighters from Tasmania to protect its plantations.
Plantation general manager Chris Barnes said five bulldozer contractors were on the job creating fire breaks and containment lines to protect plantations.
Further down the coast, a helicopter crashed while fighting a fire on a private property at Dorrigo yesterday, killing a 41-year-old Dorrigo National Parks and Wildlife ranger. The 29-year-old pilot was last night fighting for his life in Dorrigo Hospital with critical chest, head and back injuries.
Yesterday afternoon, the Pacific Highway near Iluka turn-off closed for one hour due to thick smoke from a fire burning at Jacky Bulbin Flat.
In total, about 100 bushfires continued to burn across the State last night, with the most serious blazes in the Bathurst area. Most of the fires burning across the region were started by lighting strikes during dry storms since Saturday.
A very high fire danger has been declared for the Far North Coast for today. All fire permits are cancelled.