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Friday, October 23, 2020

Fire crews survey losses from NSW bushfires as extreme weather eases

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Commissioner praises ‘extraordinary effort’ of firefighters to save lives and limit property losses as temperatures soared over the weekend

Fire expert teams were heading to central west New South Wales on Monday morning to assess the scale of loss from the weekend’s blazes, as more than 80 bushfires continued to burn across the state.

The Rural Fire Service commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, said 25 fires were still uncontained, after blazes burnt across “a very large area”, consuming everything in their path.

But fire crews hoped cooler temperatures on Monday, after Sunday’s catastrophic conditions, would help them gain the upper hand.

“We know there [are] clearly losses. Losses in homes, losses in buildings, losses in livestock and other agricultural assets,” Fitzsimmons told the Nine Network.

“The extraordinary effort of firefighters. What they saved yesterday will far outweigh the losses that we report today. I know that is cold comfort for those who have lost so much, and I don’t mean any disrespect or being insensitive, but we cannot take away from the amount of property, people, livelihoods that have been saved under yesterday’s conditions.”

Two firefighters have sustained injuries, while three people have been arrested over starting blazes.

Fitzsimmons said one firefighter was in Tamworth hospital with burns to the hands and face, while another firefighter had a serious laceration to the hand.

Police have charged three people with lighting fires at Mango Creek on the central coast, at Orange and at Nabiac on the north coast

Two fires remained at watch-and-act levels near Dunedoo and Mudgee, with RFS crews focusing on these areas on Monday.

The Sir Ivan fire, near Dunedoo, had burned through almost 50,000 hectares with an active fire edge of about 200km, Fitzsimmons said. There were reports the nearby village of Uarby had suffered significant damage with reports of at least six houses lost.

The Kains Flat fire, north-east of Mudgee, had burnt through 5,000 hectares.

Fitzsimmons said critical backburning and patrol work would be undertaken in the coming days.

“Clearly, the weather is going to be of some benefit but there is a lot of very dirty, difficult and dangerous work ahead for firefighters before we can come close to getting these fires under control.”

The fire danger would remain very high on Monday in the Greater Hunter and surrounding fire areas, Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Neil Fraser said. But no part of the state would face severe, extreme or catastrophic conditions.

Online Source:The Guardian

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