Air safety investigators were forced to evacuate the site of last week's C-130 water bomber crash after bushfire in the area flared up in Sunday's hot and windy conditions.
A New South Wales Rural Fire Service spokesman said the Good Good fire in the Peak View area became active during the day and was in close proximity to the site of the plane crash, forcing Air Transport Safety Bureau investigators to leave the scene until conditions eased.
The bureau said investigators managed to retrieve the plane's cockpit voice recorder on Saturday, and plan to return to the crash site on Monday to resume mapping the scene.
The voice recorder has been taken to the Canberra laboratories for analysis, and investigators have begun interviewing witnesses and gathering aircraft, flight tracking and weather data.
Almost 100 firefighters from the RFS, the New South Wales National Parks Service and the Forestry Corporation of New South Wales were fighting the 42,173 hectare blaze, supported by several aircraft.
While the fire's status was raised to watch and act during Sunday, the RFS spokesman said no properties were under threat and an easterly wind change late in the day was expected to aid efforts to bring it under control.
The treacherous conditions are also making it difficult for teams of specialist animal rescuers from getting access to the Two Thumbs Wildlife Trust sanctuary which has been closed off since the water tanker plane crashed nearby last Thursday, killing its three crew, Americans Captain Ian McBeth, First Officer Paul Hudson and flight engineer Rick DeMorgan.
ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood said the plane crashed soon after dropping a load of fire retardant along a ridge at Peak View, close to the sanctuary.
The intense blaze swept through the sanctuary, destroying two houses and numerous enclosures, raising fears for the fate of thousands of animals living on the 800-hectare property.
Sanctuary owner James Fitzgerald was off-site when the fire struck, and is said to be devastated by the loss of life and destruction.
Professor Steve Garlick, who operates Possumwood Wildlife animal rescue centre with Dr Rosemary Austin and works closely with Mr Fitzgerald, said access to the sanctuary had been blocked because of the active fires in the area and the plane crash.
"We have not been able to able to go on to the site because of the plane crash and there are still fires burning," Professor Garlick said.
Possumwood regularly releases wildlife it has rescued and rehabilitated in the Two Thumbs sanctuary, and Professor Garlick said he held grave fears for many of the animals living there, particularly koalas, possums, gliders and lizards.
He said animal rescuers were anxious to get access to the sanctuary as soon as possible.
"We have got a crack German team of rescuers, and there is a group of Canadian rescuers as well," Professor Garlick said. "We hope to get some of them on to the site in the next day or so."
The sanctuary has been under almost continual threat from fire this summer, including early this month when the Good Good fire burnt into its specialist koala habitat and came close to one of Mr Fitzgerald's homes.
In a post on the Two Thumbs Wildlife Trust Facebook page on Friday, Mr Fitzgerald re-posted tributes to the dead airmen from the Peak View RFS brigade and their employer, Coulson Aviation.
Firefighters throughout the southern areas of the state are working to build and strengthen containment lines amid concerns about a return of dangerous fire conditions on Monday and expectations that they will continue to deteriorate during the week.