JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Desperate wait for fire fronts to pass

Date

James Robertson, Bianca Hall, Gemma Khaicy

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Fires break out across NSW

As temperatures soar across NSW over 100 fires are break out across the state.

PT0M0S 620 349

NGHARIE McCALLUM has never had to evacuate the tiny town of Tarcutta in the 46 years she's lived there. But on Tuesday afternoon she decided to pack her bags and leave.

By the time she was set to leave the township, east of Wagga Wagga in the Riverina, it was too late. Fire had surrounded the town and residents were told to stay put.

More than 300 locals were believed to still be in the emergency area on Tuesday night. About a dozen were taking shelter at the Tarcutta RSL and Citizens Club on Tuesday afternoon.

Smoke rises from the Yarrabin bushfire, burning out of control near Cooma, about 100km (62 miles) south of Canberra. Click for more photos

NSW and ACT Fires - 8th January 2013

Residents in NSW areas with a "catastrophic" fire danger woke up to sweltering temperatures. The Southern Ranges and Illawarra/Shoalhaven areas have been given the highest possible fire danger rating. A total fire ban has been declared statewide, and all national parks, state forests and reserves have been closed to the public. Selected images available from www.fairfaxsyndication.com. Follow us at http:\twitter.com/photosSMH. Photo: REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

Ms McCallum, the club director, hoped more would arrive as the evening wore on.

''The town is full of smoke,'' she said. ''It's been so hot and dry today - it's like a furnace.'

''We're just sort of sitting and waiting - apparently we are surrounded by fire [and] they're saying there's another fire north of us, so we are virtually in the middle of fire. We are surrounded.''

As embers blew kilometres ahead of the fire, the nearby Hume Highway, on which Tarcutta is located, was closed.

To the east in Deans Gap, in the Shoalhaven, residents had worried about the confluence of 42-degree heat and winds of 70km/h.

The fire there had started on Monday before the worst of the heat arrived. Crews fought it late into the night. By 7am on Tuesday about a dozen firefighters from the Rural Fire Service went to meet the fire in Morton National Park, about 20 kilometres south-west of Nowra.

By noon their efforts appeared futile. They retreated to the road shoulder, watching grey smoke trail into the sky as a constant hot wind blew dust in their faces.

They called in the bucket firebombers and air cranes. But as the aircraft made their way back and forth between farmers' dams and the fire's heart, the wind had minutes all to its own to stoke the blaze. It was moving south-east, being led by a breakaway spot fire.

Over the ridge at the town of Wandandian, Ross Earby watched from the top of a hill as the fires converged and plumes grew dark and thick.

''A lot of people were sceptical but it just shows you've just got to keep an eye on it,'' he said. ''I knew it was serious when my neighbours started pulling out.''

The fire was spreading across the horizon, moving towards the townships of Conjola and Twelve Mile Peg, about 30km south of Nowra.

Kiaya Fleming was selling peaches on the side of the road near the Princes Highway at Twelve Mile when firefighters arrived at 3pm, sirens blaring, and told her to get out.

Andrew Preston, a tradesman at Bomaderry, had driven to his boss's property north of Twelve Mile for a view from the roof of a shed. ''It's massive,'' he said of the mass of black and grey smoke and brown dust moving slowly across the sky in front of him.

At Bewong River Retreat, north of Wandandian, owner Scott Davis calmly evacuated about six guests before surrounding roads were closed.

''It was better to be safe than sorry,'' Mr Davis said.

At 6pm he was the only one on the property. Although he could see only the smoke, he knew the wind would change and the conditions worsen. He hosed down the cabins, left the the fire sprinklers running, and drove away.

On nearby Wandean Road, resident Bronwyn Smith was frantically packing, worried the wind was about to change.

''I'm pretty scared,'' she said. ''I have two young children. I'm just getting all my stuff and I'm going …

''The north side of the highway is still open, so hopefully we'll be able to get through.''

with Georgie Mitchell and AAP

Related Coverage

News

Residents and RFS †at a Bush fire that is burning forest rd near Cooma†
8 December 2013

The Canberra times
Photo Jay Cronan

_JAY0233.jpg Fires break out across NSW

As temperatures soar across NSW over 100 fires are break out across the state.

Bush fire front line (Thumbnail) On the bushfire front line

NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers fight to prevent an out of control blaze cutting the highway between Canberra and the coast.

Scorching temperatures go off the colour scale

AUSTRALIA'S ''dome of heat'' is becoming so intense, temperatures are off the charts - literally.

Facing the fire at Deans Gap (Thumbnail) NSW and ACT Fires - 8th January 2013

Residents in NSW areas with a "catastrophic" fire danger woke up to sweltering temperatures. The Southern Ranges and Illawarra/Shoalhaven areas have been given the highest possible fire danger rating. A total fire ban has been declared statewide, and all national parks, state forests and reserves have been closed to the public. Selected images available from www.fairfaxsyndication.com. Follow us at http:\twitter.com/photosSMH.

Sydneysiders take plunge to escape extreme heat

NOT surprisingly, beaches and pools were preferred spots for people looking for relief from the heat in Sydney.

Blazes may stop mobile alerts

THE NSW Rural Fire Service has reminded those of us becoming increasingly tied to mobile phones as our primary source of information that they might not be available in an emergency.

Records will keep tumbling with blistering heatwaves here to stay

THE heatwave that has scorched the nation since Christmas is a taste of things to come, with this week's records set to tumble again and again in the coming years, climate scientists said.

Commuters sweat it out on the road to respite

IF THE official advice was to avoid the heat and stay at home, many tourists ignored it.

Flames, smoke and media succeed in fuelling arsonists

THE severe fire conditions and extensive media coverage of bushfires on Tuesday would have encouraged firebugs to start more fires, experts say.

And when it's hot, in the city …

IF THE sand on Bondi was almost unbearably hot as the mercury topped 40 degrees during Tuesday's heatwave, spare a thought for beachgoers 74 years ago.

Eggs aren't the only things frying in town

THE fridges are chugging slowly and the eggs are sizzling on the roadside in Oodnadatta. As Sydney sweltered through 43 degree heat on Tuesday, Australia's hottest town broke a record of its own with a seventh consecutive day above 45 degrees.

Power cuts affect 10,000 homes

POWER to nearly 10,000 homes across Sydney, the central coast and the southern highlands was cut for a time on Tuesday afternoon due mainly to the extremely high temperatures which caused equipment failures.

Cool in the pool in the state's hottest spot

TRYING to keep cool with three children, 5000 sheep, 10 chickens, four ducks, three dogs, a pig and a young joey is no easy feat for Vicki and Garry Dowling at Fowlers Gap, just north of Broken Hill.

Tasmania police allay fears 100 missing

POLICE have discounted media claims that up to 100 people are missing victims of the Tasmanian bushfires.

Facing up to the firestorm

Thousands of firefighters have worked through the night on several out of control fires, as a cool change crossed southern NSW.

Nature's fury kept at bay ... for now

The ACT emerged largely unscathed from Tuesday's horror fire conditions, but authorities have warned the danger is far from over.

Anxious night in Nimmitabel as evacuees wait and hope homes are spared

Pointing into the wall of smoke bearing down on Kybeyan Road, Rhonda McCarthy tried to locate her home of 30 years.

Related Coverage

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo