Rush to douse 130 blazes before new hot spell

Fire crews are racing to ensure that more than 130 bushfires still burning across NSW are under control before the forecast return of hot and windy conditions poses another serious threat to the state on the weekend.

While a southerly change on Wednesday brought much-needed cooler weather to more than 2000 firefighters battling blazes primarily in the state's south and west, 30 fires last night remained uncontained.

Three were of particular concern to the Rural Fire Service; one that had a perimeter stretching to 44 kilometres at Deans Gap near Sussex Inlet, a 16,000-hectare scrub and grass fire near Yass, and a 9000-hectare blaze in the Kybeyan Valley, near Cooma.

The lower temperatures did not stop further outbreaks, including a fire near Lithgow, just west of the Blue Mountains, which burnt through more than 50 hectares and at one stage posed a serious threat to homes. Police believe that fire had been deliberately lit.

Early estimates say the fires, which have now burnt out more than 345,000 hectares of the state, have caused $1 million in stock losses, including the death of 10,000 sheep near Yass.

Only one home has been lost, a cottage in the Kybeyan Valley in southern NSW, and there has been no loss of life which the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, said was a ''remarkable tribute'' to the planning of the RFS and the other emergency services. However, the RFS warned against complacency, with more dangerous weather forecast across NSW from Friday.

''We're looking at deteriorating weather on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So the temperatures will be elevated again,'' the RFS Deputy Commissioner, Rob Rogers, said.

''We're going to go into another hot spell and we're looking at potentially three days of that.''

The biggest threat on Wednesday night was posed by the grass and shrub fire burning in an easterly direction about 11 kilometres outside Yass.

The RFS said rural properties could be affected and fire crews would work through the night carrying out property protection. The township of Yass was at present not under threat. ''It certainly has the potential to cause quite significant devastation if it were to continue along its current path,'' Mr Rogers said.

''But I'm confident we will protect the township of Yass.''

The fire that began on Tuesday at Deans Gap in Shoalhaven remained out of control, having burnt out more than 4000 hectares.

While it posed no immediate threat to property, the forecast return of high temperatures and strong winds on Friday meant that it still could pose a threat to the coastal village of Sussex Inlet and nearby Wandandian.

A watch-and-act advisory was also in place for the fire at Yarrabin near Cooma, which had a front of about 20 kilometres.

smh.com.au

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