Reprieve for RFS firefighters

RAIN has quenched the flames of the Wambelong fire, giving Rural Fire Service (RFS) firefighters a long-awaited reprieve after the blaze began about two weeks ago.

The rain had suspended all fire operations. There were reports of six millimetres of rain falling across the 56,000-hectare fire ground, which had a 255-kilometre perimeter, on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

RFS public liaison officer Angela Daly said as the fire ground was so large more rain could have fallen in some parts, but figures were yet to be correlated.

"The rain has been much appreciated," she said.

"We are starting to scale back our out-of-area assistance."

The contained fire was scaled down to patrols overnight with fewer crews at the fire ground yesterday because of the wet conditions.

"Some tracks are quite slippery and impassable so we are using minimal crews," Ms Daly said.

"The grass is nice and damp so the risk of the hotspots escaping is reduced."

Patrols will be sent into the fire ground to turn over logs and embers still alight that are picked up by infrared cameras either hand-held or in helicopters.

"They will fly to the hotspot's edge and pick up a smouldering log or embers, and they will then grid reference it," Ms Daly said.

The information will be sent to ground or aerial crews, depending on the terrain.

The main hotspots are in the south-eastern section of the fire ground near the Mount Terrace Road with a few also at the northern side.

Local RFS crews were recently stood down for a break from the fire front with out of area assistance crews taking over.

When the RFS crews declare the fire out, containment lines and tracks in the fire ground will be reworked.

Plant machinery will then be returned, and the RFS camp set up at the local racecourse will be pulled down and packed up.

"It has been a huge team effort, the local community had really pulled together," Ms Daly said.

More than 50 homes, 100 sheds and countless livestock had been destroyed in the fire, which began on January 12.

Insurance assessors were still counting the damage wrecked by the fire.


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