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Blaze encroaching on northern NSW village

Wed Oct 14 23:52:39 EST 2009
Wed Oct 14 12:52:39 UTC 2009

SYDNEY, Oct 14 AAP - Firefighters are battling to protect the northern NSW coastal township of Brooms Head from a blaze that broke out on Wednesday afternoon.

Emergency warnings have been issued for it and another bushfire at Gurranang, north of Grafton.

Both broke out in the afternoon and spread quickly due to strong winds, prompting the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) to issue the emergency warnings about 7pm (AEDT).

The emergency warnings were later reduced to "Watch and Act" alerts as the wind eased, but authorities were still concerned about the Brooms Head blaze.

RFS spokesman Ben Shepherd said that fire, initially whipped up by 60 to 70 km/h winds, was now approaching the coastal village by late evening.

Earlier, the Red Cliff camp ground between Brooms Head and Lake Arragan was evacuated, after the fire jumped containment lines at Sandon Rd.

The RFS has urged residents to activate their bushfire safety plans, and either relocate or make preparations to defend their properties.

"We are doing property protection around those areas - Hibiscus Rd and Bottle Brush Road - that will continue over the next few hours," Mr Shepherd told AAP.

"There is a lot of fire still in the area and there will be overnight (but) we've got a lot of fire trucks in the area.

"People should keep themselves abreast of the situation. They still need to enact their bushfire survival plan now. A lot of the people have chosen to work with firefighters in defending their properties."

Mr Shepherd said the fire activity around Brooms Head had abated due to cooler nighttime temperatures and easing winds.

"There are still some quite gusty winds, but not what we've seen earlier on today," he said.

Danielle Barrett, from the Brooms Head Caravan Park, said residents were now calmly preparing for the fire.

"It's very smoky outside (and) there are quite a number of embers floating around and coming into the park," she told Sky News.

"My husband and I have gone around and just notified people that if they are going to stay to get buckets and hoses ready, especially those in tents, and to just be ready to go if we need to go."

Despite the improved conditions at Gurranang, firefighters were still focused on property protection.

"The winds were what was causing us a major problem across the afternoon," Mr Shepherd said.

"That fire is still burning around some properties (but) we're not talking major residential areas there."

He said firefighters would work to contain the Gurranang fire over the next 24 to 48 hours.

"We are expecting that fire to continue to burn into the night," he said.

"We'll have to work on that overnight, and hopefully bring it under control over the next 24 to 48 hours."

Firefighters are also tackling a blaze at Myall Lakes National Park, on the NSW mid-north coast, which threatened a number of properties on Wednesday afternoon.

"There were some homes that came under threat in the Violet Hill Rd area, but since that time it has moved away from those homes and is burning into the Myall Lakes National Park," Mr Shepherd said.

That fire was brought under control about 10.30pm, the RFS said.