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Man rescued as selfless crews struggle to gain control

Date

Stephanie Anderson

A fire truck watches over the fire on a property off Childowla Road.

A fire truck watches over the fire on a property off Childowla Road. Photo: Graham Tidy

The Rural Fire Service has rescued an elderly man from a bushfire near Crookwell as crews face extreme fire danger warnings for the weekend.

A total fire ban is in place across the state as volunteers on the ground hold concerns over a return to the catastrophic conditions of Tuesday.

A bushfire 25 kilometres from Crookwell in the Southern Tablelands continued to rage across 40 hectares of land on Friday evening, where crews had earlier fought to save the home of a 70-year-old man.

Water bombers at the Childowla Road property.

Water bombers at the Childowla Road property. Photo: Graham Tidy

Twenty firefighters and seven aircraft were on the scene of the blaze, which was classified as out of control.

Meanwhile, crews continue to battle the Cobbler Road fire near Yass. As of Friday, the blaze was burning on two fronts, one 11 kilometres from the town at Devil's Pass.

The perimeter had grown to 98 kilometres.

Fire on a property off Childowla Road near Bookham.

Fire on a property off Childowla Road near Bookham. Photo: Graham Tidy

Crews had been working on backburning and containment lines, but Peter Dyce, from the Rural Fire Service, said: ''We predict the wind will increase and that will put pressure on the fire.

''We're getting extra resources coming this afternoon, to be on stand-by. We've got 11 aircraft and they're going to be dispatched soon, if anything goes wrong. They'll bomb it and knock it down as soon possible.''

Between 30 and 40 tankers were on the ground, manned by about 120 crew members.

''The crews are a very, very dedicated bunch of people,'' Mr Dyce said.

''Of course they're getting tired and quite a lot have actually lost their own farms. But they're not worrying about what's happened, they're more concerned about making sure there isn't more damage, more devastation to their community.''

The fire has torn through properties along Childowla Road outside Bookham.

Crews and helicopters remained on site after winds reignited several small fires on Friday, farm worker Larry Tilley said.

''It kicked off about 3.30pm on Friday, it kicked off and ran right along,'' he said.

''There are still a couple of hot spots. You've got to be on top of it, watching all the time.''

Mr Tilley said he had been working putting out spot fires on the property, trying to keep the small flames from getting into a gully lush with trees and grass.

''We're just trying to keep it out,'' he said. ''It'll burn for a long time if it gets in there.''

Fire crews were forced to leave the road throughout the day, tracing sheep tracks across the rugged terrain to tackle the smouldering hills.

''It'll be burning for months,'' Mr Tilley said. ''A big heavy rain is the only thing that will put this out.''

Crews outside Cooma had also been dealing with challenging terrain as the Yarrabin fire continued to burn slowly in the Kybeyan Valley. Leanne Ellis, from Parks and Wildlife, said the atmosphere was pretty calm as of Friday evening, but there were concerns over predicted winds of up to 55km/h over the weekend.

''There is a heightened level of threat,'' she said.

''We have quite high temperatures and strong winds. The fire weather is quite severe … But we're hoping to contain it.''

The fire has burnt through more than 10,000 hectares since it began on Sunday, and caused stock losses of approximately 700 sheep.

Crews on the ground will be joined by a strike team from the Queanbeyan region on Saturday, as firefighters bring the blaze outside Bungendore under control.

Incident controller Tim Carroll said volunteers had been working throughout Friday to extinguish any hot spots, using infrared imaging to locate the dangerous areas.

He said the blaze, now contained, had burnt 1300 hectares and had a burnt perimeter of 23 kilometres. with AAP

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