NSW bushfires destroy several properties as winds pick up
FIREFIGHTERS were defending properties across the NSW south-west on Tuesday night after favourable weather conditions took a turn for the worst and pushed a 100km wide fire storm back towards townships.
Strong winds changed the course of the fire burning 8kms west of Coonabarabran, endangering properties in Bugaldie, Baradine and Carrington.
The NSW Rural Fire Service warned on Tuesday night more properties west of the Warrumbungle National Park, where 40,000ha has already been burnt out, would come under threat if containment lines were breached.
Evacuated families were told they would not be able to return home.
Without rain, the fire is not expected to be contained for at least another two days and a dire weather forecast for Thursday has authorities concerned the blaze will threaten the Coonabarabran township which has a population of more than 3000.
More than 180 firefighters have been tasked with building containment lines around the town in preparation for hot winds.
An evacuation centre at the Coonabarabran Bowling Club remains open but families may have to be relocated if the town comes under threat.
On NSW Rural Fire Service website, tributes were posted on Tuesday to the firefighters at Coonabarabran who continued to fight despite losing their properties.
Anselm Anders said members of the local RFS had lost homes and animals and had shown "huge bravery in confronting such massive fires".
"My mother...and her neighbours have lost property (and) their homes," he wrote
"Family dog is safe and was evacuated but sheep cattle and chooks likely dead or suffering".
Cut roads and heavy smoke have so far prevented search crews from finding out whether fire has destroyed more than the 33 homes and 50 sheds confirmed lost on Monday.
Stock losses are believed to be in the thousands.
Acting NSW Premier Andrew Stoner was in Coonabarabran on Tuesday.
He told reporters he was grateful no lives had been lost but said the loss of farming machinery and animals would be "devastating".
The two fires burning near Coonabarabran are the only blazes threatening towns in NSW.
Fires near Cooma and Sussex inlet continue to burn out of control but no properties are at risk.
A major fire near Yass, where thousands of sheep were killed last week, has been contained.
Updates on bushfire threats can be found at rfs.nsw.gov.au and information about evacuation centres and relief is available on 1800 679 737.
- 122 fires burning across state
- 50 fires remain out of control
- 33 properties lost
- 50 farm sheds lost
- 550,000ha burnt
- 1200 firefighters on duty - 185 at Coonabarabran fire
- 300 trucks in use