AS Orange residents awoke to a city covered in smoke yesterday, our firefighters rushed to battle out-of-control blazes in Lithgow and the Blue Mountains.
A spokesperson for the NSW Rural Fire Service said hundreds of houses could have been destroyed, with more than 26,000 hectares burnt out in just a few days.
Late yesterday, 16 firefighters from Orange and Cowra had been sent to assist with the growing emergency.
They followed four Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters who travelled to Springwood on Thursday to fight the fire in its early stages.
The State Mine fire near Lithgow has burnt out 28,305 hectares so far, while the Mount Victoria fire at Mount York Road, has burnt 496 hectares.
NSW Rural Fire Service Canobolas Zone technical officer Roy Ferguson said 20 firefighters were already on the scene, with relief crews expected to be sent yesterday afternoon.
He says Canobolas Fire Control in Orange is acting as a staging area for fire crews coming in from further west, with more crews expected to be required over the weekend.
“Because it’ll be ongoing for another few days who knows where we’ll be,” he said.
While there are no fires currently burning in the Canobolas Zone, Mr Ferguson says people need to be vigilant and call triple-0 if they see fire or thick smoke.
“If you feel the need to report smoke by all means give us a call,” he said.
Eight schools were closed in the Blue Mountains yesterday due to the fires and smoke.
The following roads remain closed in the Blue Mountains: Darling Causeway, Bells Line of Road between Lithgow and Bell, State Mine Gully Road and Blackfellows Hands Road.
There is also no access from Hartley Valley Road on to Darling Causeway.
The Public Information and Inquiry Centre (PIIC), which has been opened to assist members of the public in relation to bush fire information, has taken more than 970 calls to-date.
The telephone number to call is 1800 227 228.
Members of the public are urged to delay all non-essential travel in fire-affected areas and to monitor emergency websites for updated advice and warnings.
For all updated bushfire information members of the public should go to www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.
How to help the bushfire victims
MONEY rather than goods is the prefered way to donate to the NSW bushfire victims, according to Disaster Welfare NSW Director Allison Rowlands.
She said past experiences showed the public was extremely generous in their willingness to donate.
“Goods donated are often expensive to sort, store, distribute and dispose of,” she said.
“Donated goods also disadvantage local businesses as they reduce the need to purchase locally.”
Members of the public who wish to donate are asked to do so via the Salvation Army donation appeal at www.salvos.org.au or by calling 13 72 58. Donations can also be made through Woolworth’s supermarkets, which are acting as agents for the Salvation Army.
Ms Rowlands has advised the community not to organise appeals for donated goods as you might be left with them if no-one wants to take them.