Weather eases Thredbo bushfire threat

Downpourdouses bushfire threat

20 January 2006

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Australia — Effective firefighting and better than expected weatherconditions have helped keep at bay a bushfire with the potential to threaten thealpine village of Thredbo in NSW.

But with another hot day to go before forecast rain and dipping temperatures,authorities say it is too early to declare the village is safe.

The fire in Kosciuszko National Park is being fought on two fronts – to thewest in Victoria and the east in NSW.

The blaze remains about 12km south-west of the Thredbo village.

While warm and gusty in the region, winds did not reach 70km/h as forecastand were concentrated around two of the mountain peaks some distance from thefire.

NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) spokesman Cameron Wade attributed the success inkeeping the fire in check to the efforts of fire crews, backed up by aircraft,attacking hotspots.

“It’s probably been our waterbombing and our firefighters,” he said.

“We’re pretty happy at the moment. We have another hot day (Sunday) andwe just have to wait and see and then we can talk about it being safe.”

Mr Wade said there would be very high fire danger on Sunday and the RFS wouldcontinue to monitor the situation, but he was not unduly concerned.

The blaze has so far burnt out more than 4,400 hectares of bushland.

Firefighters have begun establishing a containment line on the northern edgeburning in NSW, but this has been complicated by difficult terrain.

Crews worked to protect historic huts and the national park’s infrastructure.

Thredbo residents have spent the past three days preparing their propertiesin case of the onset of fire, while more than 700 visitors to the park wereevacuated on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a skycrane has returned from duty in Thredbo to Sydney as totalfire bans have been declared in the Greater Sydney and Hunter regions.

The mercury hit 40.2 degrees in Penrith on Saturday afternoon and there isextreme danger of fire on Sunday with temperatures tipped to hit at least thehigh thirties across Sydney.

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