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Rural fire crews head off threat to homes

A fast-moving grass fire ripped through 26 hectares of grassland, forcing stock evacuations, and threatening several homes just outside the ACT border on Wednesday.

The fire started just after 4.20pm in close proximity to homes just past Hall at Wallaroo.

At one stage, the fire was threatening up to 10 homes.

Rural Fire Service volunteers from NSW and the ACT rushed to the scene, working quickly to contain the flames. Two helicopters doused the flames from above, while more than 20 fire units worked on the ground.

A bulldozer was used to create containment lines, and the fire was brought under control by 5.10pm.

No homes were destroyed, although some sheds and adjacent buildings were damaged. The fire badly damaged a vineyard, but the owners could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.


Property owners quickly moved their stock, mainly horses and cattle, to safer ground. There were no reports of stock loss at 8pm.

Property owner Ray Doak was one of those lucky to escape the fire without any loss of cattle.

A portion of his 64-hectare property was burnt out, but a sudden wind change carried the fire away from his cattle and horses.

Mr Doak has lived in the area for 17 years and says its the worst fire he has ever seen. ''We're lucky the wind shifted just as it was going down a hill, but unfortunately these guys copped it.

''It's like nitro, it just takes off,'' he said. Everyone's pretty lucky that it's been contained the way it has been.''

RFS Southern Tablelands community safety officer Peter Dyce said his crews had done a terrific job to contain the fire so quickly.

Mr Dyce said there was a risk the fire may flare up again overnight, or on Thursday.

The fire crews were continuing to mop up on Wednesday night, and will patrol the area over coming days.

''There's always a chance of it flaring up. The biggest thing we have to worry about are cow pats and horse pats,'' Mr Dyce said.

''They tend to smoulder and the wind picks them up and carries them out to the unburnt country.''

There were unconfirmed reports that a boy was kicked by a panicked horse and was badly injured.

The hot weather is likely to continue to Christmas.

Top temperatures of 28 degrees and above are predicted for the next five days.

Christmas Eve is set to be a scorcher with a top of 35 degrees, but it is expected to cool a little on the big day itself, with a top of 26 degrees and a shower or two.

Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Kenn Batt said the same hot air that caused a burst of warm, summery weather in Canberra a couple of weeks ago was heating up the capital again.

''The warmer air didn't really leave the continent as such, it's sort of retreated back up into central Australia, and now with the north westerlies that we have had for a while it's just sort of transported that warmer air down, he said.

For those holidaying on the south coast, a top of 33 degrees is predicted at Batemans Bay on Christmas Eve, and 23 degrees on Christmas Day.

Mr Batt said there was the chance of a late morning storm in Canberra on Thursday, but it was still expected to reach a top of 32 degrees.

Boxing Day will be cooler, with the bureau predicting a maximum of 24 degrees. with Larissa Nicholson

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