BUSHFIRE LATEST: Properties assessed, fallen trees cleared
FIREFIGHTERS on the Liberation Trail firefront, which is today burning towards Nana Glen, will face another extremely difficult day in view of spreading flames and under a haze of thickening smoke plume.
An unwanted southerly change has brought intense wind this morning of up to 50kmh to much of the Mid North Coast and with that has come fast changing conditions.
Fortunately, already there are reports from firefighters that the strong gusts experienced on the coast, were not felt in the Orara Valley.
Out there the front is forming an arc around the Nana Glen township.
Although like most fires around the state the status has today fallen from emergency level to 'Watch and Act.'
As dawn broke crews were on watch over a fast moving fireground that's still burning in multiple directions under an 'out of control' emergency status.
There's a warning that flames and spot fires could be whipped up this morning after an overnight lull that saw conditions abate.
The tragedy of the situation is that structural engineering reports will be undertaken from the break of dawn to assess how many homes have been impacted by fire.
The Ellems Quarry and McPhersons Rd areas have been among the worst hit areas.
In the upper reaches of the valley near Lowanna there's reports of charred trees down over roads.
The smoke hanging in the air was said to be so thick yesterday in the small hinterland village that many residents with dust masks on loaded up their animals and belongings into vehicles and headed down the mountain to safety.
We caught up with a few pondering what was to come at the Coramba Hotel, as publican Brett Ryman vowed they would stay on at the local pub until the 'power went down'.
Cutting snags and chopping onions for a community barbecue, he said the sign outside promising 'Free Drinks for Firefighters, was the least he could do for the many volunteers putting their lives on the line.
Outside the Lowanna residents explained how the village had taken a roll call of names of the locals who have stayed on.
As has been seen throughout the Orara Valley the sight of yellow recycling bins rolled down driveways is a sure fire sign to rural fireys that local residents are home and ready to defend their properties.
Yesterday afternoon, a jovial camaraderie existed between the Rural Fire and National Parks and Wildlife Service crews as they shared lunch at the Coramba and Nana Glen RFS stations.
Then within an hour, the firefront descended towards Nana Glen, breaking its containment lines and it was a code red alert as fire tankers under lights and sirens moved to save homes threatened by flames at the northern end of Nana Glen.
After hours battering down flames on hoses with the support of aerial drops, fire brigade crews stalled the fire's spread and under a changing of the guard one by one began clocking off for meal breaks and to get some rest.
This morning another changing of shifts is underway and fireys are reporting some firefronts have moved hundreds of metres overnight towards the east.
All the RFS modelling maps showed flames could burn towards the coast, with ember attack likely in most residential areas west of the Pacific Highway and even some closer to the coast.
But as the frontline fireys pointed out, that was always 'the worst case scenario' based on no human intervention and one that did not reflect the impact they could have in in stemming the spread of flames with their firefighting efforts.
Not out of the woods yet, they face a trying and tiring day of spot fire containment, as smoke and heat take their toll.
Working in hope that conditions will change in their favour, already there's no underestimating the incredible feeling of community thanks for these men and women, who are giving their time and using their expertise to save properties, homes and bushland here on the Coffs Coast.
A fire briefing will be held in Nana Glen this morning to discuss the plan of attack.
In this already one of the worst starts to a fire season in NSW history and with a full summer ahead, the RFS says its important to realise the fire danger will remain even with an improvement in conditions this week.
"Unless we get some rain, we're talking months before we can get any confidence in having consolidation and containment of these fires, and unfortunately the forecast is for nothing but above-average temperatures, below-average rainfall for the new few months, and we've still got summer around the corner," NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
He said its understood more than 300 homes may have been damaged by fire.
The Insurance Council of Australia meanwhile, says the bushfire emergency already this season may have come at a cost of $30 million in damage.
It said 360 claims for bushfire-related damage have been lodged and 80 where homes were completed write-offs.
But after the past week's destruction may claims are expected to follow.
Across NSW nine fires were under emergency status on Tuesday night with most downgraded to Watch and Act Status.
Council crews are helping out with a backhoe and chainsaws crews are headed into the valley.