Tabulam fire: Firefighters keep Tabulam fire east of Bruxner Highway

FEELING THE HEAT: The fire came perilously close to some properties, and had  destroyed 10 homes. Photo: Richmond Police
FEELING THE HEAT: The fire came perilously close to some properties, and had destroyed 10 homes. Photo: Richmond Police

The Tabulam fire continued to spread around Sugarbag Road, Leslie Creek Road and Kims Way on Sunday

There was an increase of fire activity on the south western side of the fire ground around Lesley Creek Rd, however firefighters with the assistance of water bombing helicopters have kept the fire to the east of the road.

The fire may approach some properties throughout the night, however firefighters remain in position at a number of properties in the area.

Heavy plant is working to establish and strengthen containment lines around the fire.

Currently there is no property at threat however residents should continue to monitor the situation and take advice from firefighters on the ground.

There were favourable conditions for firies battling the Wallangarra north of Tenterfield, where more than 35,000ha had been razed.

The fire continues to burn west of the Bruxner Highway in the Girraween, Bald Rock, Boonoo area.

More than 70 firefighters from the NSWRFS, Forestry Corp and NPWS have continued working on the fireground across the day in an effort to bring the fire under control.

The firefighters had planned backburning operations on the southern side of the fire from Jennings to Black Swamp Road, incorporating Mount Lindesay Road.

There were fears the Tabulam fire could approach properties as it spread around Sugarbag Road, Leslie Creek Road and Kims Way. Work was done to strengthen containment lines.

Emergency warning: The Bruxner Highway fire at Tabulam. Photo: NSW RFS

Emergency warning: The Bruxner Highway fire at Tabulam. Photo: NSW RFS

UPDATE 12PM FRIDAY

An emergency warning remains in place for the Bruxner Highway fire as it creeps towards homes at Tabulam.

Residents with properties in the areas of Mud Flat and Patemans Rd are being urged to monitor the situation closely.

Consider making final preparations to your property and know what you will do if the fire approaches, the RFS said. 

The Bruxner Highway remains closed with the fire burning on both sides.

Crews are fighting the fire from the air and on the ground.

UPDATE 10.30AM

An emergency warning is now in place.

Fire is impacting properties in the areas of Old Bruxner Rd, Fairfield Rd, Sugarbag Rd and Lesley Creek Rd.

If you are in these areas you should shelter now as fire approaches. It is too late to leave.

UPDATE 6PM

A woman had been charged, 10 homes and many other buildings destroyed, and 4042 hectares burnt in the Tabulam bushfire by late-Thursday.

Fire crews were working with landholders to protect properties around Paddys Flat Road, Sugarbag Road and Old Bruxner Road. 

The Bruxner Highway at the village had been closed in both directions between Tabulam Rd and Bellevue Rd.

Some residents who'd spent Wednesday night at the evacuation centre set up in Tenterfield Memorial Hall had been able to go home.

The NSW Rural Fire Service said that, by about 5pm, 10 homes and 23 outbuildings had been destroyed, and six further homes damaged.

Fire had also burnt out the Tabulam racecourse stables.

Emergency fodder for livestock had been delivered to properties in the Plains Station Road area, and a recovery centre was being set up at Tabulam Hall.

With the highway closed, motorists were being urged to use the New England Highway, Gwydir Highway and Summerland Way instead and allow extra travel time.

UPDATE 3PM

The Bruxner Highway at Tabulam has been reopened in both directions, under reduced speeds, although it may close without notice.

Four homes were lost to the fire in the Jubullum area yesterday (Wednesday), followed by another three in the Pretty Gully area last night.

Fire also burnt out the stables at Tabulam racecourse.

Crews are working with landholders to protect property in the areas around Paddys Flat Road, Sugarbag Road and Old Bruxner Road. Some residents spent last night at the Tenterfield Memorial Hall evacuation centre but have since returned home.

Emergency fodder for livestock has been delivered to properties in the Plains Station Road area.

At least seven homes are known to have been lost, as well as the Tabulam Racecourse stables. Photo: Richmond Police.

At least seven homes are known to have been lost, as well as the Tabulam Racecourse stables. Photo: Richmond Police.

A recovery centre is being set up at the Tabulam Hall. Anyone affected by the fires can attend to access welfare services such as Red Cross, FACS, Local Land Services, insurance counselors, psychological support and a rural financial counselor. Local police will also be in attendance.

Firefighters and aircraft continue in their efforts to slow the spread of the fire.

Those in the area of Paddys Flat Road, Sugarbag Road and Old Bruxner Road are being urged to monitor conditions and take advice from firefighters on the ground.

UPDATE 10PM

A woman has been charged with starting the Tabulam fire, which continues to burn and has destroyed several homes.

Police allege that about 8am today (Wednesday, February 13) the 40-year-old woman set fire to rubbish located in a large steel container in her backyard.

The fire was then left unattended and proceeded to spread to bushland behind her home.

When the woman discovered the fire had spread, she rang Triple Zero (000) and unsuccessfully attempted to extinguish the flames with a backyard hose.

The woman has been charged with intentionally causing a fire and being reckless as to its spread, and setting a fire during total fire ban.

She is due to appear before Casino Local Court on February 27.

Meanwhile the fire is burning to the west of Tabulam, continuing to burn on the northern and western edge.

The fire is spreading in bushland near Sugarbag Road and properties are under threat.

Firefighters continue to work in the area in an effort to slow the spread of the fire.

If you are in the area of Sugarbag Road, it is too late to leave. Seek shelter if the fire impacts on your property or location. Protect yourself from the heat of the fire.

If you are in the area of Old Bruxner Road and Paddys Flat Road and Tabulam, continue to monitor the situation. Ensure you know what you will do if the situation changes.

Bruxner Highway remains closed between Tambulam Road and Bruxner Road.

An evacuation centre is being set up at Bonalbo Bowling Club on Woodenbong Road.

A number of schools will be closed on Thursday including Tabulam Public School and Drake Public School.

UPDATE 5pm

The Tabulam fire situation is in a state of flux as the Bruxner Highway closes yet again between Tabulam Road and Bruxner Road.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area and use New England Highway, Gwydir Highway or Summerland Way instead.

If the area can't be avoided be sure to check the highway's status at www.livetraffic.com.

Local residents are being allowed through the closure to access their properties.

UPDATE 1.25pm

The Bruxner Highway between Tabulam Road and Bruxner Road has reopened again, with traffic controllers on site to direct motorists. The speed limit has been reduced to 40km/h, so allow extra time. 

Again smoke in the area may affect visibility, and motorists are advised to drive to the conditions.

The RFS reports an increase in fire activity across the western edge of the fire. Strengthening winds has pushed the fire across Timbarra River, in the direction of Ogilvie Drive.

Emergency alert text and phone messages have been sent to people in the area around Ogilvie Drive.

Crews are working to protect properties in the area. Firefighters will be supported by waterbombing aircraft today.

The eastern edge of the fire, south of Tabulam, remains quiet due to a successful backburn overnight.

UPDATE 12.30pm

Out of control: Belinda Swift took this photo on Tuesday afternoon.

Out of control: Belinda Swift took this photo on Tuesday afternoon.

RFS ADVICE

If you are in the Ogilvie Drive area and your path is clear and you're not prepared, leave now to the south along Plains Station Road.

If you are in the area of Old Bruxner Road and Paddys Flat Road put your Bush Fire Survival Plan into action. If you do not have a Bush Fire Survival Plan, know what you will do if the fire threatens your property.

If you are in the area of Tabulam, continue to monitor the situation. Ensure you know what you will do if the situation changes.

Here’s footage shot by Fire & Rescue NSW...

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Rural Fire Service public liaison officer Angela Daly reports that the northerly influence of current winds is slowing the progress of the Tabulam fire. Containment lines to the west however, are some distance away.

“It’s a large fireground, with lots of work to be done,” Ms Daly said.

“It’s nowhere near contained.”

The status remains at ‘watch and act’.

Crews are working to extinguish pockets of fire on the southern side between Ogilvy Drive and Plains Station Road and the Timbarra and Clarence Rivers.

Ms Daly’s latest information is that 2589 hectares have been burnt. More than 30 firefighters from nine firetrucks are working to combat the fire, along with two aircraft.

Fire & Rescue teams are assisting with protecting structures in Tabulam village and elsewhere.

Ms Daly said there are unconfirmed reports of property loss. Assessment teams are on the ground now to compile information on dwellings, sheds, outbuildings and other infrastructure so any losses should be confirmed by tonight.

She’s aware that the fire was burning near Tabulam racecourse, but hasn’t be informed of infrastructure losses there.

She said conditions are deteriorating over the course of the day, with predictions for Tenterfield of a maximum of 35 degrees with nine per cent relative humidity. Westerly winds of 40km/hr gusting to 60km/hr are expected, leading to severe fire behaviour.

“That’s what crews are working on, to prevent the fire spreading,” she said.

UPDATE 12PM

Bruxner Highway has now closed again in both directions between Drake (east of Tenterfield) and Tabulam (west of Casino) due to a grass fire.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area and use New England Highway, Gwydir Highway or Summerland Way instead.

Local residents are being allows through the closure to access their properties.

UPDATE 10.40AM

The Bruxner Highway between Tabulam Road and Bruxner Road has just reopened however there are traffic controllers on site to direct motorists and the speed limit has been reduced to 40km/h, so allow extra time.

Smoke in the area may affect visibility, and motorists are advised to drive to the conditions.

UPDATE 10.30AM

A Watch & Act remains on the bush fire near the Bruxner Highway, west of Tabulam, which has burnt more than 3900ha. There are reports of structural losses and Building Impact Assessment teams will be on the ground today to assess losses. 

Bruxner Highway remains closed between Clarence Way and Bruxner Road. A number of schools are also closed today including Tabulam Public School and Drake Public School.

Weather conditions eased overnight allowing firefighters to conduct a backburn on the southern edge, however they are expected to deteriorate across the day. 

The fire continues to move behind homes along Old Bruxner Road and Paddys Flat Road. Firefighters in the area will be supported by waterbombing aircraft today.

The fire is also burning in a southerly direction south of Tabulam in bushland along the Clarence River.

The Rural Fire Services advises those in the Tabulam area to continue to monitor the situation. Those in the area of Old Bruxner Road and Paddys Flat Road need to be alert to smoke and embers. 

UPDATE 6PM

THERE are unconfirmed reports of properties lost as a fire ravages near Tabulam.

The bush fire is burning near the Bruxner Highway, west of Tabulam. The fire is not under control and is spreading.

Under strong and gusty winds the fire has burnt in a south-easterly direction and has impacted areas to the south of the Tabulam township and the Clarence River.

There are unconfirmed reports of damage to structures in this area.

The fire is now spreading in a northerly direction, towards Old Bruxner Road and Paddys Flat Road. Isolated properties may come under threat tonight.

RFS ADVICE

If you are in the area of Tabulam, continue to monitor the situation. While the immediate threat has eased, ensure you know what you will do if the situation changes.

If you are in the area of Old Bruxner Road and Paddys Flat Road, be alert to smoke and embers. The fire is expected to continue spreading in this area tonight.

Bruxner Highway is closed between Clarence Way and Bruxner Road.

Put your Bush Fire Survival Plan into action. If you do not have a Bush Fire Survival Plan, know what you will do if the fire threatens your property.

UPDATE 5PM

A bush fire is burning near the Bruxner Highway, west of Tabulam. The fire is not under control and is spreading.

The fire is at least 10 hectares in size and under strong and gusty winds the fire has burnt in a south-easterly direction and has impacted areas to the south of the Tabulam township and the Clarence River.

Firefighters and aircraft have been unable to slow the spread of the fire. Crews are working to protect properties.

Advice

People in the area of the Jubullum Aboriginal settlement should seek shelter if the fire impacts. Protect yourself from the heat of the fire.

Bruxner Highway is closed between Clarence Way and Bruxner Road.

Put your Bush Fire Survival Plan into action. If you do not have a Bush Fire Survival Plan, know what you will do if the fire threatens your property.

Emergency Alert telephone warnings have been sent to telephones in the area.

UPDATE 4PM

THE RFS has issued an emergency warning for an out of control blaze that threatens to impact on the town of Tabulum, near Tenterfield.

The fire is burning along the Bruxner Highway, approximately four kilometres west of Tabulum.

The fire is not under control and is spreading, and is burning on both sides of the highway. It is spreading towards the Jubullum Aboriginal settlement.

The fire may impact on the Jubullum Aboriginal settlement, the RFS said.

Under current conditions, the fire may impact on the Tabulum township this afternoon.

The RFS said people in the area of the Jubullum Aboriginal settlement should seek shelter if the fire impacts. Protect yourself from the heat of the fire.

Put your Bush Fire Survival Plan into action. If you do not have a Bush Fire Survival Plan, know what you will do if the fire threatens your property.

Emergency Alert telephone warnings are being sent to telephones in the area.

The RFS said if your life is at risk, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.

Continue to stay up to date with the bush fire situation by checking http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au, listening to your local radio station or by calling the NSW RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.

If you live in the area but are away from home, it may not be safe to return to your property.

For information on road closures, check http://livetraffic.rta.nsw.gov.au. Roads may be closed without warning.

WATCH AND ACT WARNING ISSUED FOR PAL, JENNINGS

A bush fire is burning in the area of Jennings, on the NSW and Queensland border, north of Tenterfield.

The fire is burning in the area of Jennings, approximately 22km north of Tenterfield.

The fire is burning in an easterly direction towards Mount Lindesay Road and is spreading quickly due to strong winds.

There is a number of isolated properties along Mount Lindesay Road and to the west of the Bruxner Highway which may come under threat.

If you are in the area, monitor conditions and ensure you know what you will do if the fire reaches your property or location.

If your plan is to leave, or you are not prepared, leave early.

Road closures

The Bruxner Highway is closed in both directions between Drake (east of Tenterfield) and Tabulam (west of Casino) due to a grass fire, the RMS said.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area. No diversion is available at the moment.

Meanwhile further south, Thunderbolts Way and Bundarra Road are closed between Inverell and Bundarra due to a bush fire at Tingha Plateau..

Old Mill Road and Howell Road are also closed west of Tingha.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area, with emergency services are both sites.

For the latest traffic information, visit www.livetraffic.com. 

For the latest public transport information, visit www.transportnsw.info. 

More to come.

READ ALSO:

File photo.

File photo.

This story Firefighters keep Tabulam fire east of Bruxner Highway | Update first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.

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