PM visits sites of fire devastation in Coonabarabran

TODAY is expected to be another challenging day for firefighters at Coonabarabran, where at least 51 properties have been destroyed.

Meteorologists anticipate temperatures will soar into the mid to high 30s with winds of more than 20km/h.

There is a very high fire danger, prompting another total fire ban.

Inspector Rolf Poole, from the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), said the weather conditions would place a lot of pressure on emergency services, with the danger of wind blowing embers across tracks and containment lines and sparking outbreaks.

Yesterday, prime minister Julia Gillard visited the area to hear first-hand, stories of locals who saw, fought and escaped the 45,000-hectare blaze.

During her visit she paid tribute to the bravery and stoicism of residents of the Warrumbungles, who were hit by NSW's most destructive fire in more than a decade.

Inspector Poole said yesterday , strike teams would be on call today in case of any spot fires or outbreaks and to bolster crews.

He said any outbreaks would need to be dealt with quickly under such hot conditions or they would get out of control rapidly.

Properties in the south east will be particularly at risk.

The efforts of the 195 firefighters and 20 aircraft on site yesterday focused on strengthening containment lines.

Inspector Poole said the 45,000 hectare fire was not yet under control, but firefighters were gaining the upper hand.

People would be out in the field for at least another week, he said.

Inspector Poole thanked the employers of RFS volunteers, saying without them releasing their workers to fight the fires, the “extraordinary” work they do would not be possible.

Meanwhile, a fire burning 50km north east of Coonabarabran has been contained. While the fire has burnt through 2600 hectares, no properties have come under threat.

Yesterday more than 40 firefighters worked on containment lines in preparation for today’s deteriorating weather conditions.

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