A fire near Adelong broke its southern containment lines this afternoon, going on a run through Yaven Creek farmland and blackening much of the countryside.
Authorities say they’ll struggle to now stop the fire entering the Greenhills State Forest with predicted winds gusting up to 90km/h tomorrow set to push the fire further to the south.
There are reports out of Yaven Creek that several buildings had been lost to fire, including one home and a number of sheds, but the RFS said it would take some time to confirm what had been lost.
They were yet to be advised of any stock losses.
Large tracts of farmland have been blackened. Many Yaven Creek homes are without power.
RFS Riverina Highlands chief Jon Gregory said fire-fighters on the ground at the Dunns Road fire at Yaven Creek and Ellerslie were confronted with awful conditions this afternoon.
“Today was awful fire weather, to put it mildly,” Mr Gregory said. “With the wind coming from the north-west, it jumped our containment lines and forced the fire in a south-easterly direction.
“It jumped Yaven Creek Road and impacted on a number of houses and properties in that area.”
Mr Gregory said the blaze was tonight close to reaching Greenhills State Forest pine, burning in an area known as Spyglass Hill, but noted Forestry NSW had been working hard to put a secondary containment line in, in an effort to keep it out of the forest.
About 150 fire-fighters are currently tackling the blaze, backed by several water-bombing aircraft.
Mr Gregory said they would be working throughout the night.
At a public meeting in Batlow tonight, RFS inspector Peter Jones said fire-fighters would struggle to hold the blaze from moving further south-east, towards the apple town, amid winds averaging about 50-60km/h tomorrow, with gusts of up to 90km/h.
If it gets into the state forest, he said. it was likely to go on a further run.
But he noted a change, predicted for some time between 11am and 2pm, would see winds change to the south, pushing the fire back to the north and away from Batlow. But other communities, such as Wondalga and Adelong, could then be impacted.
He said Batlow could nonetheless be impacted by embers, while smoke would be an issue.
“If it gets into the Greenhills State Forest, we won’t be able to hold it and it could run through there until the change arrives,” Mr Jones said.
“Have your property prepared. Embers will be a real problem.”
While the RFS would not order people to evacuate, he suggested people should leave if they felt vulnerable.
“We’re expecting Batlow to be smashed with smoke and embers,” Mr Jones said. “If you have breathing difficulties, if there’s somewhere else you can be, don’t be in Batlow tomorrow.
“It will be a bad day tomorrow.”
Mr Jones said those wishing to stay in Batlow, but who felt vulnerable, could go to the local RSL club.
“You’ll be fine in town, indoors,” he said, while also noting that the Adelong S and C Club had set up an evacuation centre.
Mr Gregory said everyone in Batlow needed a bushfire survival plan.
Fire-fighting crews, including the local Fire and Rescue, would be on standby for property protection.
He said fire-fighters would be doing everything tonight to ensure the fire was contained.
“if everything goes to plan we’ll be in a good space tomorrow,” he said. “We need a bit of luck tonight and things to go in our favour and we’ll be okay.
“But, we’re preparing for the worst.”
The fire has so far burned about 5000 hectares.
It started Saturday by a dry lightning strike in the Hume Forests-owned private plantation known as Takejo, near Ellerslie.
Crews, until today, had largely contained the fire to the pine plantation.
Along with gusting winds, tomorrow could also bring lightning in a storm, which has authorities worried about further ignitions in the area.
People should stay up to date with the fire situation by downloading the Fires Near Me app, monitoring the RFS social media channels and website, and listening to Sounds of the Mountains radio.