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Homes lost, firefighter injured as fire east of Queanbeyan burns out of control

Clare Sibthorpe

Published: February 17 2017 - 9:12PM

A firefighter was injured and several homes were lost in an out-of-control grass fire east of Queanbeyan on Friday.

The firefighter was taken to hospital after sustaining burns while battling the fire in Carwoola, Greg Allan from the NSW Rural Fire Service said.

It is believed up to 15 homes were lost in the fire, which had burned 2700 hectares by 7pm, but Mr Allen could not confirm numbers.

"We won't get a full figure until building impact assessment teams on the ground have been able to conduct reports," Mr Allan said.

Mr Allan said 194 firefighters, 50 vehicles and at least 10 aircraft were working to establish containment lines on Friday. 

Crews included those from NSW Rural Fire Service, ACT Fire and Rescue and coastal areas such as Shoalhaven Illawarra, Cooma Monaro and the Southern Tablelands.

Air tankers from Victoria were also assisting, while the Canberra Airport refuelled some of the firefighting aircraft.

Firefighters faced 34-degree heat and winds of more than 30 kilometres an hour throughout Friday, but Mr Allan said conditions began to ease by sunset.

He said crews would continue trying to contain the fire overnight before facing potentially worse conditions on Saturday.

"If it is not contained by tomorrow, higher temperatures will make it harder for firefighters," he said.

Firefighters told residents near Carwoola and Captains Flat it was too late to leave at about 3pm on Friday.

The fire had crossed Widgiewa Road, Whiskers Creek Road and Captains Flat Road.

At about 8pm, the fire warning had dropped from emergency to watch and act. A NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman said firefighters were slowing the spread of the blaze in some parts, but residents still needed to remain vigilant and monitor the situation.

Those in the area of Hoskinstown, Rossi, Forbes Creek and Primrose Valley were urged to seek shelter, with properties under threat along Widgiewa Road, Whiskers Creek Road, Yilgarn Road and Captains Flat Road.

Two evacuation centres were set up at Bungendore Public School hall and the Q Theatre in Queanbeyan, where school children travelling on buses were also redirected.

Captains Flat Road remained closed between Briars Sharrow Road and the Kings Highway.

A total fire ban was enforced in the ACT region on Friday.

A spokesman for the ACT Emergency Services Agengy said the fire, which was travelling in an eastbound direction, did not pose any threat to the ACT. 

NSW fire crews were also battling a fire in Blayney, west of Bathurst, on Friday afternoon.

For the latest advice, check the RFS website.

Blaze crossing Widgiewa Road in #Carwoola moments after it destroyed property.

— Clare Sibthorpe (@ClareSibthorpe) February 17, 2017

SIGWARN. Emergency warning for Carwoola fire still in effect

— SureFire (@SureFire_4warn) February 17, 2017  

Driving home tonight sucked. Hope everyone is ok. #carwoola #captainsflat #bushfire #fire #nsw #queanbeyan

A post shared by Jem - Canberra Girl (@canberragirladventures) on Feb 16, 2017 at 9:16pm PST

Residents of Carwoola expected to wait 6-8 hours to get home #captainsflatfire #RFS #Fire

— Achim Bormann (@AchimBormann) February 17, 2017

With Finbar O'Mallon and Sherryn Groch

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