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Firies on alert as mercury soars again across NENW

By Catherine Clifford, Saturday January 12, 2013 - 20:30 EDT

Forecasters say the mercury will soar across the New England North West today, with temperatures expected to reach the low 40s on the Plains and the mid to high 30s on the Tablelands.

A Total Fire Ban is again in place.

Superintendent Michael Brooks, from the Namoi-Gwydir RFS, says Friday's hot conditions started two fires at Mungindi and Moree.

He says both were brought under control quickly.

"The first one occurred in one of the streets of Mungindi where we believe some power lines may have started a small fire and the second incident was reported south of Moree, on the Newell Highway, and it was a roadside grassfire with an unknown cause," he said.

"The brigade got out there and again restricted it to little damage and, apart from a little bit of smoke across the road, there were no traffic issues."

Meantime, RFS Inspector Steve Prior, from the Tamworth Rural Fire Service, says a specialist aerial crew is on standby at Tamworth Airport this weekend, ahead of a predicted 42 degrees maximum in the regional city.

He says if there are any fire outbreaks, the chopper will be deployed within minutes.

"Based out at the Tamworth Airport we have a heavy helicopter that has a belly-tank carrying capacity of some 1,400 litres," he said.

"It has a specialised crew that will be winched down from that helicopter and they basically respond within a 30-minute flying time radius of Tamworth Airport, which is approximately 100km or so."

Inspector Prior is urging the local community to report any fire activity immediately.

"We have our 38 brigades spread out throughout the Tamworth district and they are on a very high state of alert and they are very conscious of the prevailing conditions and what is likely to come forth," he said.

"Give us the opportunity to be made aware of any smoke sighting whatsoever and it doesn't matter what it is, there should be no smoke from any source, anytime, anywhere."


© ABC 2013

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