FIRE UPDATE: Firies to spend Christmas on frontline
UPDATE, 6:45AM: NSW Rural Fire Service is reporting that the fire north of Grafton near Whiporie continues to burn in the pine forest. Whilst the fire is not currently threatening homes the Summerland Way remains closed for safety of motorists and is likely to remain closed for a number of hours.
A storm did travel over the fireground however failed to deliver any meaningful rain.
The fire has burnt over 360ha. Fifty firefighters from the NSW RFS and Forestry Corp remain on the fireground.
"There is still a significant amount of work to do to get this fire contained and at best, there will be weeks of patrolling to keep it contained due to the nature of these plantations on the pine needle duff on the ground," a NSW RFS Northern Rivers spokesperson said.
"Many firefighters will be here this Christmas and not with their families."
The fire is within the RFS Northern Rivers boundary. However, RFS Clarence Valley district manager Superintendent Stuart Watts said local firefighters were also being kept busy.
"A couple of small fires mainly generated by lightning have impacted the Clarence Valley in the last couple of days and our crews are responding to those incidents and bringing them under control as quick as they can," Supt Watts said.
"We just need the community to assist by calling triple zero as soon as they can. All fire activity is suspended until the start of the New Year."
UPDATE, 7.47PM: The Summerland Way is still closed to traffic due to a fire at Whiporie, 50km north of Grafton.
The Transport Management Centre are advising motorists to avoid the area and those who need to travel between Casino and Grafton can use the Bruxner and Pacific Highways instead.
Motorists who take the alternative route need to allow plenty of extra travel time.
Emergency services are on site still trying to put the fire out and council crews are attending as well.
For the latest traffic information, motorists can call visit www.livetraffic.com or call 132 701.
EARLIER: THE Summerland Way has been closed due to an out of control fire near Whiporie.
According to the NSW Rural Fire Service webpage, the fire is burning in a pine plantation causing the highway to be blocked.
Fire fighters are on the ground in the Whiporie State Forest, and the large air water tanker Southern Belle is being sent to assist the firefighting efforts.
There is no indication at this stage as to how the blaze started, though the NSW RFS website lists the area affected as 382ha and the blaze still out of control.