PUBLIC meetings have been held in Nundle and Hanging Rock as a wild bushfire rages and police step up their investigation into what sparked it.
The Goddo's Road fire continues to spread in the Hanging Rock State Forest, and edges closer to the two communities.
Strong winds overnight on Monday led to the fire tripling in size - something that terrified the very people trying to battle it.
"It took a massive run on Monday night," Tamworth Rural Fire Service Inspector Steve Prior told the Leader.
"Everything has been done to try and contain it, but we're trying to stop it at strategic points, to stop it before it gets to the Hanging Rock village and then also going east into Nundle."
The RFS briefed residents at meetings in Nundle and Hanging Rock on Tuesday morning to tell them what was forecast, and what could unfold, if the worst happens.
The fire was almost 1000 hectares in size on Tuesday afternoon and spreading.
"Trying to resource it has been difficult because of how many blazes we have burning across the state at the moment, but the Forestry Corporation is managing the fire because it's a forest fire," Inspector Prior said.
"They have got crews coming from anywhere they can, and we are really getting stretched.
"But we have had brigades out there doorknocking all the homes in the Hanging Rock area to keep them up to date, so they know what is happening."
Crews were also battling to stop it from taking the timber plantations that have been growing for decades.
Much of the fire had burnt the harvested areas, but if it spread it would be almost impossible to stop and could threaten the local economies that rely on it.
"Helicopters are bombing the sites [on Tuesday], and Forestry crews have engaged three fixed-wing aircraft working up there, and at least four dozers and some other heavy plant machinery; and about half a dozen tankers on the ground," Inspector Prior said.
Police probe fire cause
The fire started early on Sunday morning, but exactly how is now in the hands of police. On Tuesday, Oxley police and rural crime investigators ramped up the investigation.
"We have engaged police from Oxley and rural crime detectives to review the fire situation, examine the witness evidence; and forensic service group are also involved in terms of the crime scene," Oxley Detective Acting Inspector Jason Darcy said.
"Police can't examine the fire ground at this stage because of the blaze, but the investigation is continuing and we would urge anyone who saw suspicious activity or anything untoward in that area to come forward."