FIREFIGHTERS are bracing themselves for an anticipated worsening of weather conditions at Coonabarabran today.
It came as a total fire ban was again invoked statewide.
Yesterday firefighters backburned to strengthen containment lines in the south-eastern part of the fire between Timor Rd and Baradine Rd to protect Coonabarabran, with the weather bureau predicting a hot day today and winds that will pick up to between 15 and 20km/h an hour in the morning.
The 42,000- hectare fire remained in the Bugaldie area yesterday and was moving slowly east through private properties.
It was feared properties in the Bingie Grumble Rd area and isolated rural properties along Tanabah Rd could face an increased threat of fire because of rising wind speed and change in direction.
To date 40 properties and 110 outbuildings, as well as farm machinery and stock, have been confirmed lost, but this is expected to change.
The Insurance Council of Australia has declared the fire a catastrophe for insurance purposes and established a taskforce to respond to the disaster.
The declaration initially covers insured properties in and around Coonabarabran and Coonamble.
An information point has been set up at the Coonabarabran Bowling Club evacuation centre.
Chaplaincy and counselling are also available.
Meanwhile a fire 50km north-east of Coonabarabran continued to burn uncontained late yesterday afternoon.
The fire had burnt through more than 2200 hectares but there were no properties under threat.
More than 40 firefighters, assisted by bulldozers, were working on containment lines around the perimeter of the fire ahead of forecast deteriorating weather conditions today and tomorrow.
The Newell Highway between Coonabarabran and Narrabri reopened in the afternoon, although motorists were warned smoke could affect visibility.
It was also feared a transmitter that broadcasts ABC Local and Rural Fire Service announcements could be affected by the fire.
While it was prepared for fire, there was the chance radio services and emergency could be interrupted.
Other frequencies broadcasting ABC Local include Cumnock transmitter on 549 AM; Byrock transmitter on 657 AM; Upper Namoi transmitter on 99.1 FM; Tamworth transmitter on 648 AM; and Dubbo transmitter on 95.9 FM.
Broadcasts can also be streamed online, or using the ABC Radio app on a smartphone.