A more than 3000ha blaze is dangerously close to homes in the region's west.
A more than 3000ha blaze is dangerously close to homes in the region's west. John McCutcheon

Total fire ban in place as hot weather hits

BUSH fire survival plans have been enacted in the region's west as a blaze of more than 3000ha broke containment lines yesterday moving dangerously close to nearby homes.

A 60-strong crew of Rural Fire Service volunteer fire-fighters, Forestry Corporation NSW and National Parks and Wildlife Service staff will be battling the inferno over the weekend.

On the ground efforts will be bolstered by specialised aircraft bombing water and retardant on the fire ground, which is south-east of Rivertree near Paddys Flat.

The RFS have issued a total fire ban and a severe fire danger warning for Sunday as fire-fighters such as RFS Northern Tablelands manager, Superintendent Chris Wallbridge brace for "a very challenging weekend."

He said the community of Currawinya was "very fire aware" and prepared with some residents who volunteer with the Pretty Gully RFS.

Supt Wallbridge said evacuations of the community would be dependant on their bush fire survival plans. He said some might choose to leave their properties while others could take shelter in their properties that are better protected against the fire.

He said the RFS had a "very close working relationship" with the Currawinya community during these ferocious fires, which weren't uncommon in the area.

To those planning to pitch a tent at the popular camp spot for the school holidays, Supt Wallbridge said to consider alternative locations and avoid the fire zone.

The Rivertree fire emains one of nine fires burning around the Northern Rivers as temperatures are expected to hit blistering tops nearing 40 degrees on Sunday.

RFS Northern Rivers operations manager, Inspector Daniel Ainsworth said forecasts of dry storms Friday afternoon triggered the RFS to initiate its rapid response team. He said they were on standby to combat fires sparked by lightning strikes in remote areas.

Of the fires his crews were managing, Insp Ainworth said police and RFS were investigating the cause of the Old Lawrence Rd fire near Busbys Flat.

Efforts have enhanced to catch out arsonists throughout the Northern Rivers with Forestry Corporation installing hidden cameras in state forests around Casino.

It comes as Forestry and National Parks work closely with RFS to patrol known areas for arson attacks.


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