Rural Fire Service deal with a blaze alongside the highway at New Italy.
Rural Fire Service deal with a blaze alongside the highway at New Italy. Marc Stapelberg

STORM WARNING: Lightning, gusty winds forecast over fires

READ UP-TO-DATE THURSDAY NOV 14 FIRE COVERAGE HERE

WHAT WE KNOW:

  • Myall Creek Road, Bora Ridge: Watch and Act, remains out of control and impacting into the night. The fire is expected to impact on the areas of Bungawalbin, New Italy and The Gap. 
  • Statewide Total Fire Ban is in place until midnight Wednesday November 13.
  • Mt Nardi fire: Watch & Act, remains out of control, impacting areas around Terania Creek, Tuntable Ck, Tuntable Falls, Huonbrook, Federal
  • Wardell fire: Advice level, under control
  • Border Trail, Woodenbong: Watch & Act, remains out of control
  • Summerland Way closed between Mt Lindesay and QLD border 

Important contact information during the bushfires:

  • Call 000 in an emergency
  • People in affected areas should register online with Register Find Reunite.
  • Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.
  • For general information and assistance call the Public Information Inquiry Centre on 1800 227 228.
  • For information on preparing for bushfires go to the RFS website for update.
  • Listen to your local radio stations, especially the ABC, and monitor the NSW Police Facebook site.

 

 

UPDATE 4.46pm: A COMMUNITY meeting will be held at Woodburn tomorrow to update residents on the fire situation.

The meeting will be held at Woodburn Bowling Club, 106 Richmond Street, Woodburn at 11am.

Representatives from NSW RFS, NSW Police, and the council will be in attendance. 

 

UPDATE 3.16pm: A THUNDERSTORM forming over the Bora Ridge fire near Coraki could be more trouble than its worth.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Mohummed Nambi said thunderstorms were expected very close to or above the fire grounds at least until the remainder this afternoon and into the evening.

"This is a combination of the unstable atmosphere because we've had a front go through and also the fact we have fires which are hitting the surface of the land," he said.

"Usually this does lead to the formation of thunderstorms. It makes it easier for the thunderstorms to form.

He said these types of thunderstorms were fairly quick moving and fairly dry.

"It won't drop a lot of rain and will be quite mobile because they are moving with the unstable air mass behind the front," he said.

"It's partly helped by the fire, from the very high heating from near the surface of the ground, the thunderstorms won't have much moisture in them.

He said the "nuisance thunderstorms" would probably have lightning in them as well, which could cause problems on the fire grounds.

"If you've got dry fuel around and a fire already burning and you get unlucky enough to get a lightning strike on the ground, it can cause more fires, it's something to watch out for," he said.

"It's not like we've got lots of thunderclouds forming and lots of lightning at the moment though."

He said for this time of the year, thunderclouds forming it was nothing out of the ordinary - but with ongoing fires in the region, even a garden variety thunderstorm will be something to be wary of.

 

UPDATE 2.50pm: A BUILDING thunderstorm is bringing more unpredictability for firefighters battling a blaze in the New Italy area.

RFS spokeswoman Inspector Angela Daley said the storm was building over the area and brought the potential for gusty winds and lightning.

She urged people in the Swan Bay, New Italy and Bungawalbin areas to monitor conditions, stay up to date and to enact their Bushfire Plans if needed, which included leaving early.

She said the fire had briefly crossed the Pacific Highway but was not contained to the western side.

Ms Daley said the fire was burning in the vicinity of Moonem/New Italy Rd, Williams Rd and Reardons Lane.

Fire crews are in property protection mode in those areas.

 

 

UPDATE 1.55pm: FIREFIGHTING efforts continue on a number of fronts across the Northern Rivers.

The latest fire updates:

Mt Nardi (Nightcap National Park) Fire: Is at Watch and Act warning level. The bush fire is burning in the Nightcap National Park  near Mount Nardi and has burnt more than 3700 hectares and is out of control.

The fire will continue burning towards properties near Tuntable Creek, Huonbrook, Upper Wilsons Creek and Upper Coopers Creek.

A gusty southerly change today will see the fire move in a more northerly direction.

The RFS advise if you are in the area of Tuntable Creek, Huonbrook, Upper Wilsons Creek and Upper Coopers Creek, monitor conditions.

Check and follow your Bush Fire Survival Plan. If you do not have a plan, decide what you will do if the situation changes. Leaving early is your safest option.

Tuntable Falls Road is closed east of Nimbin and other local roads.

Rummery Park campground is closed.
 

Bora Ridge Fire: A WATCH and act is in place for a bush fire burning near Bungawalbin, New Italy and The Gap. The fire has burnt more than 3800 hectares and is out of control.

The fire is expected to impact the areas of Bungawalbin, New Italy and The Gap Road.

Containment lines have been constructed to the west of the fire.

Southerly winds early may push the fire north towards Woodburn and Swan Bay areas.

The fire spotted across the Pacific Highway at New Italy. Crews were able to contain this before it spread further.
Advice

If you are in the area of Bungawalbin, New Italy, Woodburn and Swan Bay, monitor conditions.
Put your bush fire survival plan into action. Leaving early is your safest option.

Border Trail Fire, Woodenbong: Advice level, still burning out of control. the fire has burnt 3231ha.

 

UPDATE 11.44am:  WITH no significant rain on the horizon, fire activity on the Northern Rivers will continue until Christmas, NSW RFS Zone Manager Superintendent Michael Brett said.

Speaking on ABC radio this morning, he said a large dump of rain was needed to extinguish the fires burning in the region.

"I see us here until Christmas unless we see substantial rainfall.

"Fires are running in areas where people say they shouldn't be - you know, it's rainforest. But the country is just so dry and until we receive some moisture, the smoke haze is going to be around for some time.

"We're hopeful the community understands and it becomes part of everyday life that there are fires in the area. They need to be vigilant, they need to be prepared, and if they've got properties they need to start making sure they've got strategies."

 

UPDATE 11am: A COOKING fire at The Channon has been extinguished after an oven caught alight.

A NSW RFS spokeswoman said it was reported as a cooking fire at a chicken rotisserie on Standing St, and the local Dunoon Captain attended the scene and extinguished the blaze.

UPDATE 9.14am: FIRES continue to burn across several front on the Northern Rivers.

RFS spokeswoman Inspector Angela Daley said fire crews worked hard in difficult conditions yesterday to protect many properties, including the New Italy Museum.

Bora Ridge Fire: She said gusty northwesterly winds caused the Bora Ridge fire to spot up to 4km ahead of the main fire, causing challenging conditions for firefighters.

Spot fire broke out behind the New Italy Museum and further north at Whites Rd, closing the Pacific Highway.

She said fortunately coastal winds pushed the fire back as it approached the highway.

RFS crews worked tirelessly yesterday to protect properties, with the help of heavy machinery to put in containment lines.

Insp Daley said it was important for people living on the western side of the highway to know these spot fires are not contained, so they need to keep up date with fire conditions and enact their bush fire plans.

Southerly winds were expected to be 20-30km/h.

Mt Nardi Fire (Nightcap National Park): Insp Daley said there was a lot of fire burning along ridge lines in the national park area.

She said the fire was continuing to burn along Wallace Road, north of The Channon, and into Tuntable Falls and Tuntable Creek areas.

She said fighting this fire is difficult due to the steep, heavily timbered terrain. There are reports of falling trees and rocks, so people need to aware of the danger of being in those areas.

Firefighters are working to protect properties in those areas.

Insp Daley said people need to stay up to date with the latest fire advice and enact bush fire plans.

She said people should prepare their properties as best they can, to give the best chance of survival.

She said there were unconfirmed reports abandoned houses had been burnt at Tuntable Falls, but their build impact assessment teams would be on the ground to clarify that situation.

People in the Doon doon, Commissioners Creek and Main Arm should also keep a close watch on changing conditions.

Insp Daley said they were receiving support from all of the relevant agencies and strike teams from Sydney and South Australia were coming in to assist.

She said the RFS were "overwhelmed" with the support firefighters were being shown by the community, and that support was very much appreciated by the entire force.

she said it was important for people who have decided to leave their homes to let authorities know where thay are to allay fears for their safety.

You can do this by dropping in to an evacuation centre or to contact Red Cross.

People should also let friends and relatives know where they are as it is scary for people not knowing if their loved ones are safe.

Border Trail, Woodenbong Fire: Insp Daley said this fire was burning in an easterly direction yesterday towards Mt Lindesay Highway.

State forestry and fier crews are working to contain the fire. The arrival of south westerly winds was expected to push the fire back into steep country.

she said the pressure was off communities at Dairy Flat and Hill Road, but those people need to monitor conditions.

Fire can cause its own weather conditions and can be unpredictable. Be advised and ready to act if needed.

 

UPDATE 8.20am: WHILE thick, dead smoke prevented much of the fires in Northern NSW from getting worse yesterday, a southerly wind change could "worsen things dramatically".

Bureau of Meteorology NSW Manager Ann Farrell said the wind change expected to reach the Northern Rivers comes through, "it's going to be very gusty".

"Once those winds turn southernly, that will immediately impact on those ongoing fires, it's going to mean that they are going to change their direction and the size of those fire fronts can also change."

BoM has recorded a SSE wind direction with gusts up to 44km/h at Lismore Airport at 8am.

Yesterday BoM said when the southerly change reached Sydney wind gusts of 70km/h were recorded and the temperature dropped 12C in 11 minutes.

 

UPDATE 7am: TWO properties have been lost in the fires in the Nimbin area on Monday night, Nimbin RFS Captain Charlie Cohen said.

He said the properties were "totally undefendable", but no houses were lost yesterday, he wrote on Facebook Nimbin hook-ups.

"A intense fire crownfired through us and our team 1/2 locals and we are all alive," he said.

"We still have our local family homes.

"It's all patrol now, except the legends with the fight of their lives on the SE dam pipeline.

"Tonight, they cut 800m of trail in less than an hour and defended it. It's not summer yet."

ORIGINAL STORY: FIRE rating for The Northern Rivers remains High according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Hot, dry and gusty winds generated very dangerous fire conditions across large parts of New South Wales yesterday, and those conditions will be contracting to the Northeast today.

A Strong Wind Warning has also been issued for the Byron Bay Coast, Sydney Closed Waters, Coffs Coast, Sydney Coast and Batemans Coast.

Southernly change

Bureau of Meteorology Senior Forecaster Neil Fraser said air around Lismore overnight will be dry with a southeasterly change between 6am and 8am.

He added the wind in the Mt Nardiarea is expected to change direction again in the afternoon to a northeasterly, with winds carrying more moisture and with speeds of around 20km/h.

Bureau of Meteorology NSW Manager Ann Farrell said the wind change expected to reach the Northern Rivers at 5am today could  "worsen things dramatically".

"As that wind change comes through, it's going to be very gusty, but a change in wind direction," the professional said.

"Once those winds turn southernly, that will immediately impact on those ongoing fires, it's going to mean that they are going to change their direction and the size of those fire fronts can also change."

Ms Farrell said although the change will mean a drop in temperatures, it could also increase the fire danger, besides the obvious danger of falling trees and power poles associated with strong winds.

"I'd urge people to keep aware of the situation," she added.

Emergency services
The New South Wales Police Force and New South Wales Rural Fire Service thanked the community for taking warnings seriously and taking action during yesterday's dangerous bush fire conditions.

"Catastrophic fire danger was recorded in the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter and Illawarra/Shoalhaven areas, as predicted. Whilst conditions have eased, there is a large number of fires still burning throughout the State and residents are urged to stay up to date on fires in their area."

A Total Fire Ban remains in place for the whole of the state.

Transport

  • All XPT services will be suspended until Wednesday evening.
  • Sydney to Brisbane service cancelled today.
  • No Freight services running today
  • Express coaches will continue to operate from Casino to Wauchope (subject to road closures)
  • Brisbane service not running today
  • Passenger shuttle between Casino and Wauchope
  • Latest information on public transport - www.transportnsw.info or call 131 500

Welfare (Evacuation Centres)
Emergency services encouraged all people in and around fire affected areas to register online with the Red Cross operated Register Find Reunite site at https://register.redcross.org.au/
There are currently still 19 Evacuation Centres open currently as follows:
Northern Rivers:

  • Nimbin Showground - 33-37 Cecil St, Nimbin NSW 2480
  • Mullumbimby Ex Services - 58 Dalley St, Mullumbimby NSW 2482
  • Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre - 50 Oliver Ave, Goonellabah NSW 2480
  • Cavanbah Centre Byron Bay - 249 Ewingsdale Rd, Byron Bay NSW 2481
  • Coraki Bowling Club - 17 Richmond Terrace Coraki NSW 2471

Ambulance
Be aware of potential hazards such as embers, falling debris, damage to surroundings and reduced visibility which can cause injury.

Paramedics are urging people in fire affected areas to wear any form of eyewear and loose clothing to cover your skin to assist in reducing any incidental injury.

NSW Ambulance recommends if anyone sustains any form of burn they should cool the affected area immediately with water - ideally running water - for a minimum of 20 minutes (for eyes ensure you flush the eye) and seek medical attention.

It is important that people really take care of themselves. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, make sure you have all your medications with you and readily available at all times.

NSW Ambulance is always here to help - never be afraid to call Triple Zero.

Health
What are fire retardants?
Fire retardants are used to slow the spread or intensity of a fire. They help fire fighters on the ground to control and contain a fire and help protect properties.

Fire retardants may also be dropped from aircraft during firefighting operations. Sometimes a red coloured pigment, made from iron oxide, is added so that those spraying can see where they have released the fire retardant. Fire retardants consist of detergent chemicals made from a combination of wetting agents and foaming chemicals, fertilisers (ammonium and diammonium sulfate and ammonium phosphate) mixed with thickeners (guar gum) and corrosion inhibitors (for aircraft safety). They are mixed with water to form a foam or slurry. Examples include, Angus Forexpan S and Phos-Chek WD-881, PhosChek D75-F and Phos-Chek D75-R.

The fire retardants currently used in Australia are of low toxicity. Testing shows these chemicals can produce minor irritant effects before they are mixed with water. The concentrated powder may cause minor respiratory irritation to workers who are handling it. Gels can irritate eyes, airways and the skin. Workers are required to wear gloves, goggles and dust masks when handling the powder. Risk assessments carried out in the United States and in Victoria demonstrated that the risk of health effects was very low, even to people who are accidentally exposed to the fire retardants during their application. The health risk from drinking rain water contaminated with fire retardants is also low, but the water may taste and smell unpleasant and consumption should be avoided.

First Aid
If eye contact occurs, rinse eyes with fresh water continuously for several minutes until all contaminant is washed out; if symptoms develop or persist, seek medical attention. If swallowed, rinse your mouth out with fresh water; then consult a doctor. If skin contact occurs wash the affected area with soap and water. For further information call the NSW Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.

The Commonwealth Department of Health has prepared information for community pharmacists in bushfire-affected areas.

The Chief Pharmacist is preparing additional content drawing on NSW legislation and this will be sent this through as soon as possible.

  • MoH has spoken with the Pharmacy Guild, Pharmacy Council of NSW and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) and they will circulate this information to their NSW members.
  • This is a high-level summary for the public (these points have been approved by the Chief Pharmacist):
  • If you do not have your Medicare, DVA or Centrelink card or have lost your medication due to bushfires, speak to a pharmacist. In many circumstances, they will be able to provide additional supply.

In accordance with emergency supply provisions, you can receive a three day supply of many medications without a prescription. Speak to your pharmacist.

If you require an urgent supply of oral contraceptives or cholesterol lowering medicine (statins), pharmacists can dispense a single PBS quantity to you, consistent with continued dispensing guidelines.

Agriculture & Animal Services

Include your animals in your bush fire plan.
If you can, take your animals with you. Assistance from AASFA is available if you attend an evacuation centre.
Bushfire affected landholders requiring emergency fodder, emergency water, livestock or domestic animal assessment are being urged to call the Animal and Agriculture Services Hotline on 1800 814 647.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services are providing assistance to landholders to manage animal welfare-related issues including

  • Emergency fodder
  • Emergency stock water (where there is an immediate animal welfare concern)
  • Animal assessment and veterinary assistance
  • Stock euthanasia and burial
  • Livestock feeding and management advice
  • Care of animals in evacuation centres

For concerns about pets, companion animals and wildlife please also contact 1800 814 647.

Utilities

Keep at least eight metres away from fallen power lines or objects that may be energised, such as fences.

Report fallen power lines to either Ausgrid (131 388), Endeavour Energy (131 003), Essential Energy (132 080) or Evoenergy (131 093) as shown on your power bill.

Environmental Protection Authority
EPA staff have been deployed to RFS headquarters in Sydney and at local emergency operation centres across NSW.

These officers are providing emergency response assistance and environmental advice this includes identification of licenced premises, advice on management of hazardous sites.

EPA officers will continue to assist RFS for the duration of the bushfires.

Large volumes of waste have been generated from the bushfires and the EPA will continue to work with local authorities to ensure the waste can be appropriately moved and disposed of when it is safe to do so.

The EPA is also monitoring impacts on its licensed premises and providing advice to licensees about how to manage their sites given the challenging conditions. Critical infrastructure is also monitored, such as sewerage treatment plants and landfills, to mitigate environmental impacts.

Technical officers are also being deployed to support assessment of impacted buildings and sites to ensure environmental safety covering asbestos and chemical contaminants.

Advice to other agencies, including education and health, and local government regarding impact of fire foam and retardant.

Engagement on the State Recovery Committee to assist with the significant recovery effort resulting from this event. This work will continue many months post the fire impacting.

 

Maritime

Whilst the land is the most impacted, we are encouraging general public to also stay off the water.

NSW Maritime encourage boaters to stay off the water over the coming days until conditions improve. The fires are extremely unpredictable. So please take all the necessary precautions and put safety first.

Police
The NSW Police are working hard to assist people in their local communities.
For general information or assistance about the bush fires please call the Public Information Inquiry Centre on 1800 227 228.
For non-urgent assistance please call your local police.
Anyone who sees suspicious or illegal behaviour is urged to contact police via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au
Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.
Finally, if you require emergency assistance please call 000.



RAIN DANCE: Kids boogie to bust the drought

premium_icon RAIN DANCE: Kids boogie to bust the drought

‘Raindance’ singer Sara Storer dropped in to help lift their spirits

Rain helps fireys, but more needed

Rain helps fireys, but more needed

THE much-needed rain is a mixed blessing on the fireground, with cloudy conditions...

‘Absolutely fantastic’: Surf lifesavers’ impressive victory

premium_icon ‘Absolutely fantastic’: Surf lifesavers’ impressive victory

THE Far North Coast surf lifesaving team has won the country titles for the seventh...