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Rain falls on fire ground

Tuesday January 29, 2013 - 09:01 EDT

Heavy rain has helped to almost completely douse a bushfire near Coonabarabran that destroyed 50 homes.

The fire started more than two weeks ago and has burnt 56 000 hectares, and damaged over 100 sheds and outbuildings.

Additional fire crews that were brought in from across the state have returned to their homes and the fire is now being monitored by local Rural Fire Service volunteers.

Superintendent Allyn Purkiss says more than 50 millimetres of rain has fallen in the past 24 hours helping to put out smouldering logs, and he is hopeful the fire emergency has ended.

"We can't confirm it being completely out due to the conditions, we can't actually access the fire ground at this time with either helicopters or ground crews," he said.

"So we'll be confirming that when it dries out a little bit but that rain certainly has helped what we've done.

"We had no running fire on the fire ground but we did have a lot of hotspots on the edges that needed breaking up, cooling down."

He says it is too treacherous for crews to fully assess the situation.

"There are certain soil types there that make it very slippery when it's wet.

"So, we'll have to monitor that, watch those tracks when they dry out enough to get crews back out on them we'll go and monitor those lines."

Meanwhile, WIRES says it could be weeks before the full extent of animals killed in the bushfire is known.

Eastern Grey Kangaroos, emus and a group of Red Neck Wallabies, who took refuge near the Siding Spring Observatory, are some of the animals that survived.

Volunteer Penny Cook says some animals that managed to escape the fire by flying away have been treated for exhaustion.

"The birds and the microbats that were able to fly away, they're some of the stuff that's actually come into care.

"They just dropped out of the sky in sheer exhaustion and from the heat, but all that's needed is some fluids and a bit of rest and relaxation and they've been ok to be re-released fairly quickly."

However, she says the fate of animals living at ground level is still not clear.

"[We] did not see any kinds of reptiles, echidnas, wombats.

"They're thinking that any that have survived in burrows under the ground probably won't be coming up for another couple of weeks so we just have to wait and see if any of them appear, but there's been no signs of that."

She says authorities have not been able to access all of the fire ground yet, and there could be more surviving wildlife.

"It's believed that the koala population is gone, they haven't found any signs of survivors.

"There's also a small colony of yellow footed rock wallabies that they've got their fingers crossed have survived, but unfortunately they wont be able to get access to that area of the park for another few weeks yet."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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