Bushfires rage early

By TOBY WALKER

twalker@dailyexaminer.com.au

A CARAVAN was destroyed and homes threatened as two separate fires devastated bushland in the Clarence Valley yesterday.

Since Saturday firefighters from NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) crews had spread out across bushland near Coutts Crossing to divert a large fire away from several properties.

According to RFS community safety officer Stuart Watts, fire came within 50 metres of one property as it devoured more than 300 hectares of privately owned bushland off Blaxlands Flat Road.

By yesterday afternoon, crews from Coutts Crossing, Nymboida, Ulmarra and Southampton had secured the area by backburning and pushing the fire away from homes and into inaccessible bushland.

But there was no rest for the Ulmarra crew who headed on to Halfway Creek to help the Halfway Creek and Glenugie crews fight a blaze threatening properties on Gilmore Lane.

A caravan on private property was destroyed and firefighters were still working to secure the area yesterday evening.

Mr Watts said it was not yet clear whether the fires had been intentionally lit, or spread after being left unattended by a resident.

Police have been called into investigate.

With RFS crews becoming increasingly busy containing weekend fires, Mr Watts did not discount the possibility of re-introducing a blanket fire ban in the Valley.

"It's getting to the stage now where if we have too many more unexplained fires or we find they've been left unattended we'll have no option left but to enforce the bushfire danger period where landholders will require written approval to light any fire," he said.

"Generally their pretty easy to contain and they haven't encroached too much into national parks and forests at this point in time, but if more of these fires occur we will need to put some strategy into place to curb these illegal fires."



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