| 14.09,19. 08:37 PM |
Emergency warnings downgraded as wind change eases threat to northern NSW homes
Photo: A firefighter in front of burning bushland at Long Gully Road, Drake earlier this week. (AAP: Darren England )
A wind change has eased the threat to properties south of Drake near Tenterfield after a bushfire burning there jumped the Bruxner Highway.
The fire at Long Gully Road was heading towards 15 to 20 homes in Red Rock and Rover Park, but an easterly wind change is expected to push the fire away from the homes.
An emergency warning had been issued for the affected areas around Drake, Ewingar, Sandy Place, Tlbaroo and the western side of the Clarence River.
But the warnings were downgraded to Watch and Act by the Rural Fire Service on Saturday evening.
Residents have been asked to continue to monitor conditions and follow their bushfire survival plan.
A large water-bombing aircraft has been dispatched to the area. The Bruxner Highway remains closed between Drake and Sandy Hill.
An emergency warning had also been issued for the Kingsgate Red Range fire, 15 kilometres east of Glen Innes, but that has also been downgraded to Watch and Act.
The fire is burning within the Brother State Forest, with spot fires starting ahead of the main fire.
Residents in Newton Boyd and Wytaliba are being advised to monitor for embers. The RFS is advising that residents follow their bushfire survival plan.
Old Grafton Road is closed between the Gwydir Highway and Henry River Bridge at Newton Boyd.
The Rural Fire Service said the wind change moving through northern parts of the state could be both a blessing and a curse.
Speaking from the fireground in Drake, North coast RFS Group Captain Mark Egglington said crews will be watching the wind closely in the coming hours.
"It's good in one way, it will stop it coming back towards Drake which is where our helicopters are working at the moment trying to slow it down," he said.
"But it will push it back towards Roma Park which it will probably impact sometimes tomorrow I would say, so we've just go to wait and see and put strategies in place to deal with that."
Weatherzone meteorologist Hannah Wilson said the fire danger remains high across northern parts of the state, with strong south westerly winds expected to fan blazes.
"It is quite windy at the moment and this is due to a front which crossed the south of the state yesterday and the south westerly wind direction has increased fire dangers," she said.
"Over the next coming days the conditions may stay the same or possibly get worse as another front is set to move through on Monday."
Ms Wilson said the dry weather conditions have led to an early start to fire season.
"It's unusual for this time of year, it's early on for the fire season to start," she said.
"But we have seen some warm temperatures with clear skies and strong winds so it's not unusual to see fires occurring in those conditions."
Firefighters are working to slow the spread of fire to the north of the Bruxner Highway, north east of Sandy Hill. Firefighters are with a number of residents on Red Rock Road.
Residents in the area of Red Rock and Rover Park should seek shelter as the fire approaches and protect themselves from the heat of the fire.