Most of the small community of Uarbry has been wiped out by a bushfire burning near Dunedoo, residents say, as the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) continues to battle blazes across the state.
Residents told the ABC nine of the dozen or so homes in the community were destroyed when the Sir Ivan fire bore down on them yesterday.
Paul Devonian was supplying bulk water to fire crews on the ground and said the conditions were the worst he had seen in 25 years of fighting fires.
“You couldn’t walk forward, it’d near blow you backwards, the wind,” he said.
Cassilis farmer Tony Hegarty said news of property losses near Uarbry was starting to filter through.
He said there were also reports of extensive stock losses.
“I think dealing with the dead stock or the damaged stock is in the first instance is the real heartache,” Mr Hegarty said.
“I remember a farmer who got burnt out many years ago, he just said it took 10 years for the business to recover. That’s the sort of issue we’ll be dealing with I guess”.
The RFS will send an expert team into fire-ravaged areas today to help determine property and livestock losses.
It has also received reports that homes have been destroyed in a fire that is burning west of Port Macquarie on the NSW mid-north coast.
That grassfire, which has so far burnt through 700 hectares, is burning out of control in Pappinbarra.
RFS spokesman Cam Baker said crews were also heading to the area to determine the extent of the damage.
“We’ve got three unconfirmed houses that have been lost,” he said.
“Building impact analysis crews will be moving into those areas this morning to assess any property damage.
“Certainly a very devastating and emotional time for all of those people in that Pappinbarra road area.”
During yesterday’s fire, one member of the public was flown to hospital in Sydney with severe burns and a firefighter was also seriously injured.
The RFS said there were still dozens of bush or grassfires burning across the state, with more than 20 of them yet to be contained.
Easing conditions overnight have seen the worst blazes at Dunedoo and Kains Flat in the NSW central west downgraded from emergency to watch and act status.
Other fires are now at advice level.
BOM says relief on the way
Firefighters are expected to get some relief today, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a cool change for much of the state.
Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior forecaster Neil Fraser said temperatures would be much lower.
“The good news is the next few days will see much milder temperatures across the bulk of New South Wales,” he said.
“We’ll see some high temperatures coming back to the west on Wednesday and Thursday.”
The NSW RFS issued emergency warnings for several blazes yesterday as soaring temperatures prompted authorities to describe conditions as “the worst ever” experienced in the state.
— Lizzy Galloway (@LizzyGalloway) February 12, 2017
Record heat fanned the flames
Several NSW towns recorded new record temperatures on Sunday.
The mercury in Walgett, near the Queensland boarder, reached 47.9 degrees Celsius yesterday while Taree (45.7C), Port Macquarie (46.5C) and Kempsie (46.4) also set new benchmarks.
Firefighters were not helped by firebugs, authorities said.
A man, 40, was charged after allegedly lighting a bushfire at Mangrove Creek, on the Central Coast today. He was refused bail.
Further north, a 32-year-old man was arrested and after two deliberately lit fires were started at the Dargavilles Road area at Nabiac.
NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons addressed reports of arson throughout the state and said deliberately lighting fires was a “heinous act”.
“How dare they, how dare you. It’s a criminal act, it’s a dangerous act,” he said.
“You put the lives at risk of our firefighters, the vast majority of whom are out there doing it for free, simply to make a difference and protect their local community.”
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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