Oxley Crossing fire jumps containment lines

TUESDAY 4.45pm: The Oxley Crossing fire has broken containment lines on the northern side. There are a number of properties in the area which may come under threat before 5.30pm.

Firefighters and aircraft are working in the area.

Hot and windy conditions are putting pressure on containment lines around the fire.

The Oxley Highway has reopened. Drive to the conditions and be aware of firefighters working in the area.

The Rural Fire Service suggests residents put their Bush Fire Survival Plan into action.

"If you do not have a Bush Fire Survival Plan, know what you will do if the fire threatens your property," a spokesman said. "Well prepared and actively defended homes can offer safety during the fire."

TUESDAY 8.45am: Conditions on the fireground eased on Monday night, a Rural Fire Service spokesman said. 

The fire has burnt more than 1800 hectares and firefighters remain in the area.

"The fire has slowed down considerably overnight and firefighters have worked to protect a number of properties in this area," the spokesman said.

Crews will be continuing to work throughout the day today on constructing containment lines on the north west and south western sides of the fire.

Hot and windy conditions are forecast for Tuesday  and this will put pressure on containment lines.

The Oxley Highway has reopened in both directions about 25km east of Coonabarabran.

All diversions have been lifted. Authorities say there are no delays for motorists.

EARLIER: ALMOST two dozen properties were under threat late last night  from a raging bushfire spiralling towards the village of Rocky Glen near Coonabarabran.

The ferocious blaze was almost unstoppable as it spiralled through dry grassland, fuelled by winds and warm weather, coming just days after locals marked the one year anniversary of another devastating fire near Coonabarabran.

Making matters worse is the predicted scorcher today which will bake Tamworth Country Music Festival revellers and fire crews alike.

Temperatures are expected to top 40 degrees in some parts of the region and fire crews are taking no chances with a total fire ban in force for the Northern Slopes, New England and North West.

But it’s little consolation for the Oxley Crossing fire near Coonabarabran where the odds are stacked against dedicated fire crews using every bit of mite they could to try and control the raging inferno.

Eight aircraft were sent to strike the fire from above while more than 40 RFS fire crews battled leaping flames from the ground.

“On current predictions it will take it to the south of Rocky Glen village however we then have wind changes that are kicking in from the south-west which could take it into the village,” RFS spokesperson Peter Brookehouse said.

“At least 15 properties, possibly up to 20 ... could be impacted upon.”

The ferocious blaze sent a huge plume of smoke into the air that was so big it could be seen on the Namoi weather radar.

By 6pm the fire had encroached on 2,000 hectares of land and was rapidly expanding – with predictions it might not be contained until it reaches about 10,000 hectares.

The fire jumped the Oxley Highway at Oxley Crossing, about 25km east of town, yesterday afternoon forcing hundreds of motorists and some headed to the country music capital on detours.

“Once we got a prediction on paper, on what the fire is going to do and what the weather is going to do it becomes apparent very quickly what the dangers are,” Mr Brookehouse said.

Late yesterday police were door knocking residents in the path of the fire to get out and head towards Gunnedah or seek shelter if they were prepared to fight.

And attempts to bring the blaze under control will be a tough fight for RFS crews.

“It was started by lightning, from lightning activity about 6pm on Sunday night,” Mr Brookhouse said.

“We’ve got more hot days, so that leaves limited opportunity for back burning.”

Last night the fire was downgraded to a Watch and Act warning as conditions eased but the RFS was keeping a close watch on changing wind conditions.

Residents were also being warned it still wasn’t safe to return home.

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