A STRIKE force of New England firefighters has been sent to the Far North Coast to back up crews battling unseasonable winter blazes.
Four tankers and an 18 person crew left for Casino on Sunday after an emergency was declared and Fire and Rescue personnel were called in to assist Rural Fire Service units on the ground.
More than 80 bush and grass fires fires continue to burn across the state, dozens of which remain uncontained.
Winds of up to 60km/h are forecast throughout NSW and fire crews are on high alert.
A very high fire danger remains in place for NSW's northeast.
New England Fire and Rescue commander Tom Cooper said the timing of the fires didn’t bode well for the summer.
“The bushfire season hasn't really started yet,” Superintendent Copper said.
“It’s very early in the season to be seeing bushfire emergencies across the state, so it doesn’t look good for rest of season.
He said the biggest problem was dryness, but strong winds were also posing a challenge.
“It’s probably going to be like this until the end of summer,” he said.
“We’re basically going to have people on standby all the time now, until we get some rain.”
However, Superintendent Cooper said the need to render assistance across the state wouldn’t leave this region under-resourced.
“It goes to show the capabilities of firefighters in this area,” he said.
“They have the skill level to be called upon in a moment’s notice to go up over the mountains and help the RFS crews on the coast.”
Four tankers from the New England region have been deployed to Casino, including a hazmat truck to deal with any asbestos issues and a compressed air foam tanker, which the commander said was good for dealing with bushfires.
Earlier in the weekend, an emergency warning was issued for Tabulam, near Tenterfield after a fire jumped the Clarence River.
The fire is now listed as under control.
Meanwhile, the Gwydir Highway has been closed in both directions between Glen Innes and Jackadgery due to a bush fire.
Emergency services and traffic control crews are at both closure points.
Motorists should consider using either the Bruxner Highway or Waterfall Way as an alternative.
Motorists are urged to stay away and avoid the closure.
Due to the nature of the bush fire, there is no forecast as to when the highway will reopen.
Motorists should plan before they travel by visiting www.livetraffic.com
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