THEY had to contend with hot, dry and gusty conditions, but local firefighters have escaped severe bushfire conditions relatively unscathed.
The Namoi Gwydir Rural Fire Service (RFS) zone was bracing for a severe fire rating, but luckily only had to contend with one out-of-control fire.
RFS Inspector Brett Loughlin said crews were called to an outbreak on a property at Pallamallawa.
“We had a fire in stubble that started from a header,” he said,
“It burnt out about 50 hectares and took off with the wind. It was quickly brought under control by three RFS trucks; fortunately, it was burning in an area where there were no assets.”
But there were plenty of calls, putting crews on heightened alert.
The Namoi Gwydir zone fielded more than 30 calls, after a smoky haze blanketed much of the region.
“People could smell smoke and see a haze, so they were very concerned,” Inspector Loughlin said.
“Just to be safe we put up a fire-spotter plane, to ensure there were no unreported fires.”
The plane weaved its way across the New England North West, to try and detect where the smoke was coming from.
Tamworth RFS Superintendent Allyn Purkiss believes the smoke drifted from the coast overnight, but it was better to be safe.
“The spotter plane flew from Scone to Tamworth and tracked over the edge of the ranges, up through Armidale and up to Glen Innes,” he said.
“It flew over a fire that was burning up near Emmaville and which is under control. It then came back down over Inverell and over the tops of Barraba before refuelling at Moree.”
After the pit stop at Moree, it tracked down past the Pilliga, Coonabarabran , Murrurundi, Nundle and back to Tamworth.
The RFS said in some remote scrub areas the plane spotter was the only way of sighting a fire before it took hold.
Following yesterday’s reprieve, the warm weather will drop slightly today before climbing again tomorrow and Sunday.
Most areas are set for a very high fire danger period and all fire permits have been suspended for 24 hours as a precaution.