Gypsy Lady set to head back to the big smoke

THE massive sky-crane sent to Tamworth as a precaution during last week’s extreme conditions could take off as early as today.

The RFS confirmed Gypsy Lady was expected to head back to base in Sydney, depending on conditions locally.

The Erickson sky-crane was tasked to Tamworth on Friday morning and was on standby throughout the four days as sizzling temperatures and winds gripped the region.

It was only called out once to douse a fire burning near homes at Warral on Friday afternoon.

Fire conditions are set to ease somewhat from today as slightly cooler temperatures envelop the North West.

A very high fire danger is forecast for the Northern Slopes, North West and New England but RFS crews are stilling keeping a close watch on a handful of blazes.

Gwydir Superintendent Michael Brooks said yesterday had given crews a slight reprieve with no new fires reported to late yesterday.

“Forestry crews have been working hard on the control lines,” he said.

 “We have identified a couple of problem trees that are smouldering near the Culgoora Rd which may cause the road to be closed.”

That fire, which raged out of control on Friday, has burnt out about 422 hectares with firefighters continuing to monitor it.

In Baan Baa, local brigades were watching a small fire, while other RFS brigades were using the day to restock equipment and build fire stocks up again.

“The temperatures are slowly lowering. We’re hopeful of a little bit of moisture which may ease the conditions and give us a reprieve,” Superintendent Brooks said.

“All aircraft have been stood down, but we have some still on call.”

Despite the drop in temperatures, the RFS is warning landholders not to get complacent with a number of callouts to close calls with water or pressure pumps, or landholders pumping out of dams. 

Gwydir RFS said it had also received reports of motorists throwing cigarette butts out the window, despite the dangerous conditions.

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