Australia–– PARTS of far western NSW have been declared natural disaster areas, along with Taree, as bushfires across the state continue to cause havoc.
NSW Police and Emergency Services Minister Michael Gallacher said on Wednesday lightning strikes sparked some 25 bushfires across the far west, causing widespread damage to property.
Fires have burnt some 25,000 hectares of grass plains, trees and natural habitat affecting food sources for native animals and stock.
The areas affected by the fires are Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar, Central Darling Local Government Areas and the Unincorporated Area of NSW”, said Mr Gallacher, who added the Greater Taree local government area later in the day.
He said reports indicated fires destroyed hundreds of head of livestock, farm water and electricity infrastructure and abouty 50 kilometres of fencing in the far west.
An intense bushfire over the weekend at Taree impacted a number of properties and required a significant multi-agency and community response.
Mr Gallacher said the bushfire started on October 20 in the Upper Landsdowne area and quickly spread.
Seven properties sustained damage and loss which includes fencing, water tanks, stock feed, a tipper truck, two sheds, two tractors and a cattle loading yard, Minister Gallacher said.
The Rural Fire Service (RFS) issued an emergency warning at about 4pm, stating that the fire was burning in severe fire danger conditions and was expected to impact on properties in Gungully Road off Yarrett Road Upper Lansdowne.”
The declaration triggers a range of disaster assistance schemes to assist with the cost of disaster relief and recovery.
These disaster assistance schemes are made available by the NSW Government through the NSW Disaster Assistance Arrangements and they are supported by the Commonwealth Government through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.
As the temperature rises we are expecting to see more bush and grass fires of this nature right across the state. It is important for residents in bush and grass fire prone areas to prepare now for what will no doubt be a busy season, he said.
Premier Barry OFarrell said he hoped disaster relief would help.
Our thoughts are with those affected by the bushfires and we hope that this assistance will get them back on their feet as soon as possible, he said parliament on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, crews from the NSW RFS, Fire and Rescue NSW and National Parks and Wildlife Service, supported by aircraft and bulldozers, are today working to strengthen containment lines on the 35,000 hectare Macleay River Fire.
The RFS said the Macleay River Fire was the culmination of the Freds Creek and Georges Junction Fires that had been burning in the area for some time, and merged into one large fire over the weekend.
The fire, burning in the vicinity of the Comara, Georges Junction, Five Day Creek, Lower Creek, Blanches Creek and Smith Creek areas, is currently being controlled.
There are currently no properties under threat, however people are advised to remain vigilant and be aware of falling trees.
Kempsey Road remains closed. The situation will be re-assessed Friday morning.
Mr Gallacher urged people to report fires quickly to triple zero (000).