Firefighters are facing a “nightmare” trying to contain several out-of-control bushfires in northern NSW, with fears a southerly change could push at least one of the blazes towards houses on the coast.
Three watch-and-act warnings are in place for fires at Bees Nest, near Armidale, Drake, near Tenterfield, and Shark Creek in the Clarence Valley just south of Yamba.
At least nine homes have been destroyed but crews are yet to fully assess the damage.
Of greatest concern is the Shark Creek fire, with gusts of up to 80km/h forecast for Tuesday morning.
Residents of nearby towns Angourie, Wooloweyah, Gulmarrad and Yamba are being warned to monitor the situation closely after the blaze breached containment lines overnight.
“Firefighters are working furiously trying to slow that fire down,” NSW Rural Fire Service deputy commission Rob Rogers told Nine’s Today Show.
“They won’t put the fire out but trying to stop it spreading towards the north towards the more populated areas.”
The blaze has already burnt through more than 7750 hectares of bushland in the Yuraygir National Park.
Meanwhile, crews are still trying to get a hold on fires north of Ebor at Bees Nest – which has a perimeter of more than 300km and has burnt more than 66,500 hectares – and around Long Gully Road in Drake, which has razed 40,000ha.
Firefighters have spent the night trying to protect property but have been unable to bring the fires under control.
“Just trying to get containment on these fires is a nightmare,” Mr Rogers said.
“They are still burning in and around properties, and that’s going to continue on until hopefully there will be a break tomorrow from the winds. But today we’re expecting stronger winds again.”
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a high fire danger rating for several regions on Tuesday including the Far North Coast, North Coast, New England, Central Ranges and Greater Hunter. The risk will be very high in the Northern Slopes region.
More than 630 firefighters were deployed to fight 60-plus fires burning across the state as of Monday afternoon, many of them uncontained.