State and federal grants available for fire-affected in NSW

AS FIREFIGHTERS across the country were sent to NSW and Tasmania to prepare for potentially catastrophic weekend conditions, major relief funding flowed into both states.

In NSW, where farmers have been devastated by the loss of tens of thousands of stock, pastures, crops and fences, state and federal government grants are now available.

Premier Barry O'Farrell said families whose homes, essential household items and/or properties had been destroyed could apply for assistance through the NSW Disaster Assistance Arrangements with the Commonwealth.

He described the deaths of 10,000 sheep in the state's south west as "heartbreaking" and a huge loss to the NSW farming industry.

He congratulated "the brave men and women" fighting fires across the state and said the State Government would be putting protection measures in place to ensure volunteers were not penalised by their employers for not turning up to work.

More than 20 fires remain out of control in NSW and two major blazes, one near Nowra and the other near Cooma, are threatening homes and properties.

The fire near Yass which is believed to have claimed at least one home and more than 21,000 livestock, has now been contained.

A total fire ban will again be enforced across the state on Friday and is likely to remain in place for the weekend.

In Tasmania, a donation from Prince Charles took the Red Cross Bushfires Appeal to more than $1.6 million.

The money will be distributed by an independent committee to families displaced by the fires which have already wiped out 130 properties and burnt out at least 110,000 ha on the state's eastern peninsula.

A fire at Forcett remains out of control and residents in nearby areas are on high alert with above average temperatures expected from Friday.

NSW FIRE UPDATES

  • 126 fires still burning in NSW
  • 15 fires remain out of control
  • 1200 firefighters are on duty
  • 360 trucks and more than 80 aircraft are in use
  • More than 15,000ha of land burnt out
  • 131 homes destroyed in Tasmania; 8 in Victoria; 1 in NSW.

MAJOR FIRES STILL BURNING OUT OF CONTROL

Sussex Inlet (Nowra): More than 130 firefighters are working together to contain the fire burning 12km west of Sussex Inlet, approximately 6km from the town. 4,840 ha have been burnt out. The fire has burnt out 5,840 hectares. Fire on west side of Princes Hwy has burnt close to three properties and crews have put in back burns to protect them.

Yarrabin (Cooma): Fire has burnt through 9,400 ha of bushland and is 20kms east of Cooma. Community briefing held at the Nimmitabel town hall late Thursday and residents on high alert.

Yarranderie (Sydney): Remote area firefighters and water bombing helicopters are working to contain a bush fire burning in remote bushland, west of Yarranderie near Sydney

POLICE INVESTIGATIONS

Three teenage boys have been charged with deliberately lighting a bushfire at Shalvey in Sydney's west on Tuesday

A fire which threatened homes and destroyed 40ha of bushland at Lithgow, near the Blue Mountains, is being treated as suspicious

Investigations are continuing into the theft and arson of a car which sparked a grass fire at Parkes, near Dubbo on Tuesday night. Two hectares of land was burnt out.

A man accused of setting off illegal fireworks at a campsite, accidentally starting a massive bushfire in the state's central west, will front an Orange court in February

A 76-year-old farmer will front court accused of sparking a fire, which has burned through 140ha of land at Hargraves, by using an angle grinder on his veranda during a total fire ban.

A Dural man was fined $1100 for setting fire to logs in his yard and breaching a total fire ban on Wednesday

FIRE PENALTIES

  • Starting a bushfire and being reckless as to its spread - up to 14 years jail
  • Lighting a fire when a total fire ban is in place - up to 12 months jail and/or $5500 fine
  • Failing to comply with a bushfire hazard reduction notice - up to 12 months jail and/or $5500 fine
  • Light or use a tobacco product within 15m of any stack of grain, hay corn, straw, standing crop, dry grass or field - up to $5500 fine
  • Damaging property with intention of endangering life - up to 25 years jail
  • Manslaughter - up to 25 years jail

NSW BUSHFIRE ASSISTANCE (Eligible communities)

  • Albury
  • Berrigan
  • Blayney
  • Boorowa
  • Cabonne
  • Conargo
  • Coolamon
  • Cooma-Monaro
  • Cootamundra
  • Corowa
  • Cowra
  • Deniliquin
  • Forbes
  • Goulburn Mulwaree
  • Greater Hume
  • Gundagai
  • Harden
  • Jerilderie
  • Junee
  • Lachlan
  • Lockhart
  • Murray
  • Orange
  • Palerang
  • Parkes
  • Queanbeyan
  • Shoalhaven
  • Snowy River
  • Tumbarumba
  • Tumut
  • Upper Lachlan
  • Urana
  • Wagga Wagga
  • Wakool
  • Weddin
  • Yass Valley
  • Young

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