Conditions ease for MNC fires

May still burn for weeks.

Conditions ease for MNC fires

Photo of Pappinbarra fire from Riverbreeze drive (Lyndall Tonkin/facebook).

UPDATE 5PM:

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) has completed an initial assessment of areas affected by bush fires in the Mid North Coast at the weekend. The damage includes:

Pappinbarra (Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA)
4 homes destroyed
1 house damaged
4 outbuildings destroyed
 
Spring Hill Road Dondingalong Fire (Kempsey LGA)
2 houses destroyed (one habitable)
7 outbuildings destroyed

Meanwhile, the Newcastle Herald is reporting the 32 year old man charged with lighting fires at Nabiac had two young children with him at the time, and was a former Rural Fire Service volunteer.

UPDATE 3PM

UPDATE 1PM:

The towns of Wauchope and Beechwood are dealing with the fallout from their largest fire emergency in living memory, but you wouldn't know it from their response.

Since the fires first received an emergency danger rating on Sunday, local have been offering their beds, clothes, veterinary skills and food to locals that have needed to be evacuated.

Dozens of people have been sleeping at Wauchope showground, the emergency evacuation point, and show society president Neil Coombes says he's been amazed at how people have come together.

UPDATE 12:24PM:

Bushfire Impact Assessment teams have moved into the residential areas the Dondingalong fire burned through last night to assess the extent of the damage.

RFS Superintendent Wayne Leader reports there were no injuries, and one house in the Kempsey District has been confirmed destroyed at this point.

Superintendent Leader says while conditions have improved in the light rain, the fire is still burning through over 300 hectares, and residents should have their bushfire survival plan handy.

Fire crews supported by helicopters are close to containing the blaze, while mapping aircraft is being deployed to establish where the containment line shave been set.

UPDATE 12 PM:

UPDATE 10AM:

Police have charged 32 year old Rick Ballard Lestrange with a number of offences, including two counts of intentionally causing fires at Nabiac.

He will face Taree local court this morning.

There is just over 600 customers across Port Macquarie and west of Wauchope who remain without power.

UPDATE 9:35 AM:

There are unconfirmed reports that homes have been lost to fires in both Dondingalong and Pappinbarra, as light rain falls around the Hastings.

Fire authorities have let residents of Pappinbarra road back to their properties, and given clearance to Essential Energy crews to start working on patrol lines west of Wauchope, where an estimated 400 customers remain without power.

RFS Superintendent Kam Baker says the fire threat remains on mid north coast despite downgrades overnight, and has also discouraged people from heading to nearby the fires to take a look at the damage.

UPDATE 8:39AM:

A man will appear in court today after two deliberately lit fires started at Nabiac.

About 3.30pm on Friday, emergency services were called to reports of a bushfire on Dargavilles Road.

Officers from Manning Great Lakes Local Area Command attended and commenced an investigation.

Police were told a man in a white van was allegedly seen lighting the fire.

Police later sighted the van while patrolling and spoke with the 32 year old driver, arresting him and charging him with with two counts of intentionally cause fire and be reckless as to its spread.

No buildings were damaged by the fire.

UPDATE 7:15AM:

UPDATE: 6AM:
All the latest information on power outages can be found here.

UPDATE: 5:45AM:

Strawny speaks to Neil Moye about residents' decision to stay and protect their properties, helped out by firies.

UPDATE, 4:42AM:

Conditions have eased for two fires that were at an emergency threat level in the mid north coast last night, though they remain out of control.

Early this morning, the RFS reported decreased activity from a 744 hectare blaze at Pappinbarra road north west of Wauchope.

Though it has been downgraded to "advice level", the RFS advises residents in the vicinity of Pappinbarra Rd in Hollisdale, Lower Pappinbarra and Beechwood should remain vigilant and be prepared to implement their bush fire survival plans.

Further north, a 327 hectare fire that threatened properties on spring hill rd and ballengara road dondingalong has also slowed, but residents in the vicinity of Ballengara Road, Pipers Creek Road, Cockatoo Lane and Myers Lane should remain vigilant.

Channel 7 is reporting eight homes have been lost in the Pappinbarra blaze.

UPDATE: 8:36PM:

After a weekend of battling emergency level bushfires in the Hastings and South of Kempsey, mid north coast fire crews are now preparing to assess the extent of the damage.

Last night, Mid North Coast RFS Superintendent Kam Baker said 265 fire-fighters were actively involved over all firegrounds on Saturday, rising to 410 on Sunday. They were helped by by several helicopters, with the Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) and the Large Air Tanker (LAT) undertaking several retardant drops on the Howes Creek Fire late Saturday afternoon.

Superintendent Baker also urged residents to remain vigiliant and prepared for fires, as there is reportedly still a lot of work to be done in coming weeks or until heavy rains.

UPDATE 7:35PM:

Statement from the RFS:
 
URGENT information for Spring Hill Rd fire, Dondingalong: people who are in Bellangara Rd, the fire has increased intensity and is moving towards that street.
 
If you are in that street, you need to take shelter as it is too late to leave.
 
Seek shelter from the radiant heat, and follow directions of firefighters that will be operating in that area.

UPDATE: 7:20AM:

Two fires are burning to the west of Wauchope in the vicinity of Pappinbarra Rd, Beechwood moving in an South Easterly direction parallel with Pappinbarra Rd towards Beechwood.

The fire is spreading quickly under worsening conditions.

A southerly change is expected to impact the area of the fire which will change the direction of the fire path to the north towards Bellangry Rd.

Firefighters supported by water bombing aircraft are protecting a number of isolated rural properties in the area that are being impacted by the fire.

Residents in the vicinity of Pappinbarra Rd in Hollisdale, Lower Pappinbarra and Beechwood are advised to SEEK SHELTER as the fire front arrives.

Protect yourself from the heat of the fire.

UPDATE 7:06PM:

Cameron Price from Channel 7 says areas along Pappinbarra road have been completely scorched by the fire, including eight "structures".

The fire is now reportedly "burning back on itself" following the southerly wind change.

UPDATE 6:43PM:

Neil Coombes, President of the Wauchope Show Society has got in touch, saying anyone with horses and animals or people who have needed to evacuate can stay at the showground.

There is room to pitch tents and stay in the hall, and according to Mr Coombes there is plenty of space.

UPDATE 6:32PM:

The RFS website reports people in the Dondingalong area need to move towards the east towards the Pacific Highway.

Authorities have reportedly confirmed one property has been lost in the Pappinbarra fire.

And Police have arrested a 32 year old man after two fires were deliberately lit Dargavilles Road area at Nabiac earlier today.

UPDATE 6:09pm:

Channel 7 is reporting eight homes have been lost in Beechwood, Paul Best from the RFS says at this stage any property losses are unconfirmed.

"That will be investigated by building impact assessment teams once that fire is brought under control."

The 20 hectare blaze near Pappinbarra Rd is still being reported as burning through 20 hectares, and Mr Best says firefighters may have a long night ahead controlling it.

"It could be some hours yet until that one is contained."

UPDATE, 5:47pm:

Firefighters at the Dondingalong blaze are being lent support from Waterbombing aircraft, as they look to control a bushfire burning 10km south of Kempsey.

In the past half hour the RFS' Paul Best said homes on Spring Hill Rd were firefighters' main concern.

"People that are in front of that fire in and around that are should seek shelter as that fire front approaches," Mr Best said.

"It is burning in Sever Fire Danger Ratings at the moments, so it's quite a dangerous fire, and during these times it can be uncontrollable, fast-moving and unpredictable.

UPDATE, 5:29pm:

The Wauchope community is rallying behind local residents affected by the fires.

Several locals have taken to the facebook group "What's on in Wauchope" to offer shelter and services for animals, as two fires, one out of control, continue to burn near Pappinbarra Rd.

5:17pm:

Fire crews in the mid north coast are currently battling two fires with an "Emergency level" threat rating.

One fire north west of Wauchope is currently burning through 20 hectares near properties on Pappinbarra Road - police reportedly blocked off access to Pappinbarra from Beechwood two hours ago.

A second fire burning through 92 hectares directly east of the Pappinbarra blaze has been under control since before 2pm, and is currently at a "Watch and Act" threat level.

Further north, a blaze of unspecified size is threatening properties on Spring Hill Road, Dondingalong, 10kn south of Kempsey.

Around an hour ago, the RFS reported "Properties are under direct threat.
People in the area need to seek shelter as the fire front arrives. It is too late to leave."

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