RFS media Liaison officer Fred Nichols at town meeting in Nimmitabel. Photo: Jay Cronan
Hundreds of residents battling through the worst fire conditions in memory crammed into town halls near Yass and Cooma on Thursday, as they braced for a second round of blistering heat and strong winds.
As firefighters continued to battle a large bushfire burning west of Yass, around Cobbler Road, 360 people turned out to Memorial Hall on Yass' main street.
The mood remained positive in the face of a devastating fire that has now ripped through 14,270 hectares, causing major stock loss.
RFS media Liaison officer Fred Nichols. Photo: Jay Cronan
The crowd was told the fire posed no direct threat to Yass at this stage, and that the fire was within containment lines.
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But firefighters warned that the return to hot, dry, windy conditions on Saturday could intensify the bushfire.
Rural Fire Service community safety and education officer Peter Dyce said the meeting heard praise for the work of firefighters and emergency services, who managed to avoid the loss of any homes.
But he said there were concerns about the timely delivery of information to those in danger. ''One of the things that we were reminded of was that we didn't really send enough information out to the community,'' Mr Dyce said.
''There was a slight negative approach, but there was a lot of positive stuff there, there was some really positive criticism about what happened and what didn't happen.
''One of the things that was highlighted was that we didn't lose any houses, and that had to come back to what I put down to pre-fire preparation.''
It was a similar story in Nimmitabel, near Cooma, where more than 100 locals packed the town hall to get updates on the Yarrabin fire.
More than 10,500 hectares have been burnt near the small town, but residents remained upbeat, Fred Nichols from the Cooma-Monaro Rural Fire Service said.
"The community, as we saw at the meeting, are excellent," he said.
Locals described the blaze as one of the worst they could remember, with authorities saying it was unlikely it would be extinguished without rain.
Local volunteers are out among the 18 to 20 tankers on the ground, while people have donated up to $500 worth of meals for crews each day.