Communities on edge as conditions deteriorate
AFTER a tense weekend the communities of Bellingen and surrounds are once again on high alert as the Anderson Creek fire draws nearer.
It's currently burning approximately 20 kilometres west of Bellingen and in a community newsletter issued yesterday the NSW Rural Fire Service has warned residents to be on alert again today.
"Communities east of the fire including Darkwood, Thora, Kalang and Bellingen should be preparing for the threat of fire now.
"Containment options are difficult under current dry conditions and the fire cannot be extinguished without substantial rain."
Very high fire danger is predicted for today, with temperatures in the mid to high 30s with low humidity and the chance of a thunderstorm later in the day.
The RFS is focusing on property protection in Darkwood with National Parks and Wildlife Service and Forestry Corporation preparing containment lines in an attempt to hold the fire west of Kalang.
The dire warnings follow similar alerts issued over the weekend.
Locals including Andrew Woodward have described the level of stress in the community as the fire threat drags on and raised questions about the messaging surrounding the threat.
"While it is right to err on the side of caution, statements that fire may reach Bellingen frighten people and impact tourism businesses as people cancel trips based on what they hear or read.
"If things are over hyped like they were on that 'Catastrophic Tuesday' a few weeks ago where everywhere west of the highway was at risk when in reality, fire didn't get within 50 km of places in the risk area, people will stop paying attention. They'll just think, 'here they go again'."
The Andersons Creek fire has burnt out 11,534 hectares. As the fire spreads through previously unburnt stretches of rainforest calls have been increasing for proposed logging in the Kalang headquarters to be put on hold.
Bellingen Shire Council staff will be on hand at the Thora Community Hall, 2 Darkwood Rd, Thora today between midday and 4pm to talk to local residents about preparedness and ensuring bush fire survival plans are in place.