Nervous wait at evacuation centre as winds fan flames

EVACUEES taking shelter at Dorrigo Showground are under no illusion - the fire that has already burnt out over 63,000 hectares will continue to threaten their properties with strong winds fanning flames and no rain on the way.

The Bees Nest fire, which began in the Guy Fawkes River National Park northwest of Dorrigo, is currently being pushed towards the coast by winds gusting up to 80km per hour.

Patricia Gray fled her Dundarrabin home on Saturday morning and is grateful for the warm drinks and food on offer at the showground.

Andrea Mauta, Tracey Leete and Patricia Gray taking shelter from the fires at Dorrigo Showground on Monday morning. Photo: Trevor Veale
Andrea Mauta, Tracey Leete and Patricia Gray taking shelter from the fires at Dorrigo Showground on Monday morning. Photo: Trevor Veale

She had been watching the fire from her back veranda since Wednesday.

"I'll try to talk about it, that's if I don't start crying again," she said.

"I'm a musician so I managed to grab six of my best guitars but I still have lots of equipment back at home.

"This fire isn't going out until we get rain. It's bone dry out there."

Unfortunately there's no rain predicted in northern NSW for at least the next two weeks.

To make matters worse the high winds are hampering the efforts of firefighters with the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) having to ground their six choppers and two fix-winged firefighting aircraft this morning.

 

Smoke from the Bees Nest fire looking across from Deer Vale Road. Photo by Trevor Veale
Smoke from the Bees Nest fire looking across from Deer Vale Road. Photo by Trevor Veale

Another woman taking shelter at the showground was Andrea Mauta who fled her 300 acre property at Billy Creek at 3.30am on Saturday morning.

She has a neighbour who is determined not to leave and is looking after her cattle.

Prolonged smoky conditions and fears for the future of her property forced her into hospital on Monday morning to treat anxiety and migraine.

"With the wind changing so much I don't know which way it's going to go."

Tracey Leete joined the shell-shocked pair for lunch but struggled to speak due to smoke inhalation.

She says her Dundarrabin home is safe for now and is extremely grateful for firefighters' efforts and the incredible generosity of the Dorrigo community for establishing the evacuation centre providing food, clothing and fellowship.

Shots from the firefront in the Coffs Clarence.
Shots from the firefront in the Coffs Clarence. Frank Redward
Shots from the firefront in the Coffs Clarence.
Shots from the firefront in the Coffs Clarence. Frank Redward