AS THE region bakes in a heatwave that has forced a second day of total fire bans, locals have been dealt a cruel blow with several cooling off spots declared no-go zones.
Dangerous levels of blue green algae have been detected in Chaffey Dam, Lake Keepit and Pindari Dam as well as an off-river storage which has been taken offline near Glen Innes.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has warned locals are at risk of gastroenteritis or skin and eye irritations if they drink or come into contact with the water, after the latest red level alert was issued for Chaffey on Friday.
Swimmers, fishers and skiers are being urged to avoid the water which could also pose a threat to pets and livestock.
It’s likely to frustrate locals who turn to water hot spots to cool off as the mercury nudges 40 degrees in some parts, for a second day in a row.
Warning signs have been erected and the areas are under surveillance by Water NSW which said Tamworth’s water supplies were not impacted.
“People are advised not to enter the water, not to drink untreated water or bathe in water drawn from the dam while this red alert level warning is in place,” a spokesperson said.
“Town water supplies remain unaffected and safe to drink.”
On Friday, the North West sizzled through a top of 39.7 in Moree and .5 degrees cooler in Gunnedah, while Tamworth topped 37.3 at 2.45pm, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
The hot and gusty conditions are only set to continue with the region tipped to bake for a couple more days as a heatwave settles in.
Tamworth is looking at temperatures around the 38-degree mark on Saturday followed by 37 on Sunday, and one degree cooler on Monday.
Local pools were the place to be on Friday with Tamworth Regional Council reporting a steady stream of visitors through the gates, with more expected to flock poolside on the weekend.
Meanwhile, Tamworth Rural Fire Service (RFS) Superintendent Allyn Purkiss told The Leader crews would remain on alert on Saturday for a third day-in-a-row .
“The crews are on standby at the station ready to jump and these are volunteers too,” he said.
“They had a very, very quick response to the machinery blaze that sparked a paddock fire at Nemingha on Thursday. That was a great assistance in controlling that very early and very quickly.”
Superintendent Purkiss said the gusty winds could spell trouble if a fire breaks out on Saturday.
“The wind is our biggest killer, when we get the wind it makes it very difficult and challenging to control fires that break out,” he said.
“There will be a total fire ban on Saturday again which means no fires, no campfires, no hot works, no welding.”