LOCAL firefighters are bracing for another horror day on firegrounds across the New England and beyond as trying conditions continue for another day.
A total fire ban is again in place for Wednesday with a severe fire danger predicted for the New England and very high in the Northern Slopes, covering the Tamworth area.
More than 150 schools are no-go zones on Wednesday including Bald Blair, Ben Lomond, Bendemeer, Chandler Public at Wollomombi, Deepwater, Ebor, Emmaville Central, Guyra Central, Mingoola, Moonbi, Nowendoc, Wytalibah and Yarrowitch public schools.
Local firefighters were scattered across firegrounds around the New England North West region on Tuesday night in bid to try and stop the out-of-control blazes that were threatening homes.
Battling strong winds, fires were burning out of control at Moonbi, near Tamworth; Wandsworth between Tingha and Guyra; and Whans Road, at Llangothlin near Armidale.
Watch-and-act fire warnings were still in place on Tuesday night as crews tried to gain the upper hand in the winds.
The RFS suspect the Moonbi fire was deliberately lit - something that shocked even the most veteran firefighters.
While staff and students self-evacuated from the local public school, Tamworth Regional Council local emergency management officer Murray Russell said council had opened up the Moonbi Showground.
"We have had some contact from rural property owners in relation to protecting livestock. Council has made Moonbi Showground available for what is currently a small number of stock that are seeking relocation," he said.
"If the numbers of stock become more significant, we may need to reassess that option.
"Local Land Services have offered their assistance with vets and other animal services if they are needed."
Some footage from the fire burning near #Tamworth in the Moonbi hills this afternoon. @NSWRFS has issued a severe fire danger rating in the #NewEngland region for tomorrow. Stay safe and look after each other. #nswfires#NSWbushfires@The_NDLpic.twitter.com/nsWR7EUIcT— Jacob McArthur (@jlmcarthur4) November 12, 2019
Throughout the day and into Tuesday night, emergency warnings were in place for raging infernos bearing down on properties in the Gulf Road area, near Tenterfield; Thunderbolts Way, at the Bretti fire in the Nowendoc area; Reserves Road, Mares Run fire near Thunderbolts Way; the Carrai Creek and Carrai East fire; as well as the Stockyard East fire, east of Walcha.
Almost all roads to the coast from the Tamworth and New England area were closed because of fires including the Thunderbolts Way to Nowendoc; the Oxley Highway from Walcha to Wauchope; and the Gwydir Highway from Glen Innes to Grafton.
The public should keep up-to-date with the NSW RFS Fires Near Me app or on the website at rfs.nsw.gov.au.
If you see an unattended fire, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.
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A State of Emergency has been declared, which hands state government powers to the NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.
Residents who do not have a Bushfire Survival Plan in place and live in an area where bushland could pose a risk should leave early.
Windy conditions could worsen Moonbi bushfire: RFS
Strong winds were continuing to play havoc with the Moonbi bushfire which was still burning out of control on Tuesday night.
NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Superintendent Allyn Purkiss said until winds calmed down, the fire would continue to burn straight towards difficult terrain that fire crews would find hard to reach.
"The winds are pushing it very quickly towards the east and is running through the Moonbi ranges, which is very difficult to control in there. It's very steep and rugged and not something we can get to very easy," he said.
"It's certainly creeping down to properties on the western side but we've got trucks at all of those.
"When that wind drops we'll be able to do something about it but until that wind drops there'll be some challenges ahead of us."
Superintendent Purkiss said this would burn "a lot of country" but "not a lot of private properties" would come under threat.
"It would head across to Danglemah Road and then keep travelling north westerly to Nundle Road and into some country and Limberi-Weabonga Road," he said.
The bushfire started near the New England Highway on Thursday morning and at 5pm was at watch and act level.
Three airborne units are in action as are numerous crews on the fireground. There are also extra crews on standby in case of further fires.
The RFS Superintendent said winds are expected to change direction at about 10pm-11pm from north westerly winds to south westerly and then change back again to north westerly tomorrow.
"It's a fairly similar wind direction but as the wind drops it'll allow us to get a better handle on it but we'll have to wait until the wind drops because it's very dangerous for firefighters to be near the front of the fire," he said.
Superintendent Purkiss said Triple Zero (000) had received many calls from people in the area seeing smoke, but there was no fire.
"If they see flames there'll be plenty of smoke but don't call unless there's fires," he said.
He also asked farmers to keep an eye on their silage and hay stacks in case of self-combustion.
"It occasionally gets quite hot and we see some self-combustion from hay or silage or the like so they need to be watched as well," Superintendent Purkiss said.
He said people needed to be vigilant in these times.
"People need to be ... aware of any fires in their area and we ask for their cooperation for any fires that might start. The RFS are all doing the best we can to bring them back under control but it takes a lot of work and communication to make sure we get the outcomes we want."