FIGHTING FIRES: The Elvis helicopter, which can hold 9,500 litres (2,500 US gal) of water, fills up for another drop. INSET TOP: Paula Avery with Rocky Laurie, 3 months, after being dropped off by buses back to Jumbullum Village following the fires. INSET BOTTOM: Fire trucks patrol the parched earth around Tabulam.
FIGHTING FIRES: The Elvis helicopter, which can hold 9,500 litres (2,500 US gal) of water, fills up for another drop. INSET TOP: Paula Avery with Rocky Laurie, 3 months, after being dropped off by buses back to Jumbullum Village following the fires. INSET BOTTOM: Fire trucks patrol the parched earth around Tabulam. Marc Stapelberg

Touch-and-go on fire front

AFTER days of battling blazes in and around Tabulam, firefighters are taking advantage of the cooler conditions to prepare for the hot weather ahead.

 

Large amounts of paddock and sturctural damage on Chauvel Road in Tabulam.
Large amounts of paddock and sturctural damage on Chauvel Road in Tabulam. Marc Stapelberg

Firefighters from NSW and Queensland along with other government agencies including the Roads and Marime Services were working feverishly to prepare for the coming days which are predicted for a return of hot and gusty conditions which could see fires flare up again.

Rural Fire Services Superintendent Michael Brett said firefighters will continue their 24/7 management of back-burning and maintaining containment lines.

He said firefighters have been on duty protecting lives and property all day and night since the fire started ripping through the area.

"Firefighters have been working around the clock as we have a small window of opportunity to back-burn at the moment," he said.

"Conditions are predicted to worsen around next Tuesday so we will be back-burning ahead of the hot and windy weather expected then."

In Tabulam, a strike team of NSW Fire & Rescue crews were being briefed by Inspectors Jarrod King and Gary White.

The strike team consisted of eight fire trucks and two command vehicles with more than 22 firefighters from stations in the region including Casino, Lismore, Kyogle and from as far afield as Sydney and the Central Coast.

In the Jubullum Indigenous Village, a team from the RFS State Mitigation Services lead by Environmental Officer (Hotspots) Jamie Bertram was assessing the damage to some buildings, including a large work deport.

The team was also removing burned and dead trees which were in danger of falling on roads and buildings.

Along the Bruxner Hwy between Tabulam and Drake, an RMS crew was hard at work removing trees and clearing branches which had fallen across the road.

Tabulam appeared deserted, apart from a steady procession of emergency services vehicles coming and going to keep everyone safe.

Nearly 7000ha has been burned so far.



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