FAMILIES who have returned to regions where major fires forced evacuations in the past week have been warned that hot winds could cause at least four ferocious blazes to flare again in coming days.
The biggest threat remains at Coonabarabran where containment lines have been strengthened around the township, where more than 3000 people are expected to come under direct threat on Thursday.
Already, 40 homes and at least 101 buildings in the area have been confirmed lost on the outskirts of Coonabarabran.
On Wednesday night several properties in the Bingie Grumble Range were under extreme threat as strong south-easterly winds increased the speed of the blaze.
An evacuation centre remained open at the Coonabarabran Bowling Club.
North of Coonabarabran, the Newell Hwy remained cut to Narrabri to allow fire crews to carry out back burning.
At Sussex Inlet, near Nowra there are fears severe weather conditions could re-ignite a fire which has already burned through 8900ha.
Residents in coastal towns have been placed on alert and are urged to seek shelter in Bega should the fire threat increase.
Another major bushfire near Cooma, which was finally contained on Tuesday after burning out of control for more than a week, is expected to once again breach containment lines on Thursday.
Across the state, more than 100 fires were still burning on Wednesday and 20 remained out of control.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters that until NSW was blessed with much needed rain, there would be "a lot of work ahead".
He said strong north-westerly winds would fan the fires on Thursday and Friday and make for "very dangerous and difficult work", particularly at Coonabarabran.
"You would like to think we've seen the worst but...we've got some more bad weather on the way," Fist said
"At best this fire wouldn't be controlled for days, we'll have fire crews literally patrolling it for weeks.
"We need to be prepared for deteriorating weather and we need to be prepared for the very real potential that this fire will still be uncontained and will get up and run again under those weather conditions."
- 40 properties lost
- 101 buildings destroyed
- Stock loss estimated to be more than 20,000
- 100 fires still burning
- More than 550,000ha burnt
MAJOR FIRES STILL BURNING
REDBANK NORTH - The bushfire is burning 50 kms north-east of Coonabarabran and has crossed the Newell Hwy, but remains south of the Timmallallee Road. The fire has burnt through more than 2,200 hectares. No properties under threat at this time.
COONABARABRAN - More than 200 firefighters are fighting a 42,000ha bush fire in the Warrumbungle National Park to the west of Coonabarabran. The fire is burning in the Bugaldie area, 1km south of Bugaldie village, 8kms west of Coonabarabran and 4kms south of Siding Spring. The township of Coonabarabran is under threat.
YARRABIN (Cooma) - A bush fire continues to burn 20kms east of Cooma in the Kybeyan Range area. There is no immediate threat to property; however people should be prepared for deteriorating weather conditions.
DEANS GAP (Shoalhaven) - A bush fire approximately 7kms west of Sussex Inlet is being controlled by firefighters. With increasing temperatures and wind expected in the area on Thursday and Friday, there is potential for this fire to break containment lines.
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