Firies do battle as blazes rage out of control

THE Rural Fire Service Commissioner has declared a regional bushfire a major operation enabling extra resources to be sent in to extinguish the blaze near Coonabarabran.

Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons made the Section 44 declaration at the weekend as the Oxley Crossing fire jumped containment lines again and raged out of control.

Strike force teams from Tamworth, Grafton and other areas landed on the fire ground 

yesterday and got straight to work, allowing exhausted local firefighters a reprieve.

The fire was sparked on January 20 and has burnt more than 4500 hectares of private property and scrubland but there have been no property or stock losses reported.

RFS Inspector Brett Loughlin said crews worked hard to build new containment lines over the weekend.

“Containment lines were strengthened, widened and consolidated on Sunday, and despite the warm weather, the containment lines held and we were able to put it down to a controlled status about 11am yesterday,” he said.

Fixed-wing water bombers and helicopters have been attacking the blaze to help almost 50 firefighters on the ground.

“The crews are using hand-held thermal-imaging cameras in the field to identify hot spots,” Inspector Loughlin said.

“So we’re trying to do that and that will continue for the next couple of days.”

Crews will also have to combat unsettled weather conditions predicted today, which could dish out thunderstorms late in the day.

Meanwhile, RFS units have managed to get the upper hand on a blaze burning near Gunnedah.

Liverpool RFS District Officer Graham Brown said the Milroy fire on Milroy and 

Wandobah roads had burnt out about 135 hectares but units had managed to contain the blaze.

“There have been some issues with fire- damaged trees falling,” he said.

“Crews will be monitoring for the next few days and doing a lot of mop-up work to extinguish hot spots.”

National Parks crews are helping RFS firefighters on scene but the RFS is urging landowners to be vigilant.

“We would encourage everyone to do a bushfire survival plan, no matter where you live,” Mr Brown said.

“The effects of drought are having significant effects on fires because it’s so dry.”

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