FIRE crews have worked through the night to try and contain an out-of-control 75-hectare fire north of Orange that sent one man to hospital yesterday.
NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) crews believe the fire started after a man lit fireworks at a property two kilometres south of Long Point Crossing near Mullion Creek.
Warm and windy overnight weather quickly stirred up the fire into a 75-hectare scrub and grass blaze that was roaring through inaccessible terrain late yesterday.
By 5pm yesterday there were five fixed wing water bombers and three helicopters on the scene trying to contain the fire that ground crews were unable to access.
NSW RFS duty officer Brett Bowden said their main function is to contain the fire.
“There are areas in that location that are extremely difficult to access,” he said.
“It’s probably the worst area we’ve got. The slope is very steep and almost cliff like.
“There are some areas we can’t get firefighters or trucks into, that’s why we’ve got so many aircraft.”
By early afternoon yesterday residents in the isolated area were told to pack and leave or prepare to defend their properties.
Mr Bowden said they had constructed some containment lines using fire retardant but were concerned they may not hold should the hot weather flare up again today.
“Our main focus is to get it contained. We’re not confident it will hold the fire in day conditions but it will hold overnight,” he said.
“It may take another 24 hours to do this.”
The fire was declared a Section 44 yesterday, which allows for further resources to be brought in to contain the blaze.
A high fire danger has been announced for today and, with NSW RFS resources already stretched, they have asked the community to be careful in the hot weather.
Yesterday’s total fire ban across Orange and the central west was the first for the region this bushfire season.
There have been several high fire danger days declared since the fire season began on October 1, 2012, with crews concerned about warm temperatures, strong winds and dry fuel levels across the region.
During a total fire ban a gas or electric barbecue is allowed, but only if:
* It is on a residential property within 20 metres of the house or dwelling
* It is in a picnic area and approved by Council, National Parks or State Forest
* It is under the direct control of a responsible adult
* The ground around the barbecue is cleared for two metres of all material that can burn
* You have an immediate and continuous supply of water available