Livelihoods have been destroyed in the Bees Nest fire which continued to burn west of Dorrigo. Photo by Ranald Braund.
Livelihoods have been destroyed in the Bees Nest fire which continued to burn west of Dorrigo. Photo by Ranald Braund.

Trail of destruction grows as fires continue to burn

A man who almost lost his house and property in the Bees Nest Fire, which continues to burn west of Dorrigo, has documented its trail of destruction.

Fires are once again making headlines today with up to 30 homes lost as blazes whipped up in the State's north.

Closer to home the massive Bees Nest fire has burnt through 102,234 hectares and locals like Ranald Braund from Hernani are trying to come to terms with the impact.

He has operated a 700-hectare beef cattle property in the area since 1950.

The fire started almost six weeks ago in the Guy Fawkes River National Park and Ranald has questioned the park's long-term management and initial response to the blaze.

 

Sheds and cattle have been lost.
Sheds and cattle have been lost.

He recalls the fires of 1996 and says there has not been enough back burning in the intervening years to prevent more fires.

"I spent three weeks with the rest of the farmers, fighting this fire as it emerged from the gorge and threatened landholders' property," Mr Braund said.

"My memories are of seeing, night after night, the massive front of this fire, up one ridge and down the next, extending into the distance, devouring all in its path, and travelling down the gorge taking everything in its path."

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Now he is concerned the gorge has been completely 'sterilised' with the recent blaze. The heat has been so intense flames have leapt the full height of large mature trees.

 

COUNTING THE COSTS: Flames leapt the full height of these mature trees. Photo by Ranald Braund.
COUNTING THE COSTS: Flames leapt the full height of these mature trees. Photo by Ranald Braund.

"Animals such as koalas, quolls, snakes, echidnas, indeed all inhabitants, have been cooked alive."

There's currently no end in sight for weary firefighters with the Bees Nest fire likely to merge with two large blazes to the north: the Kingsgate, Red Range fire at Glen Innes which has burnt 36,166 hectares and the Kaloe Mountain Trail fire 50km west of Grafton which has taken out 31,960 hectares.

Firefighting air tanker : The Marie Bashir 737 Air Tanker tackles blazes in northern NSW.
Firefighting air tanker : The Marie Bashir 737 Air Tanker tackles blazes in northern NSW.

The NSW Rural Fire Service is concentrating on 'dry fire fighting' techniques such as raking and back burning as it battles to bring the blaze under control in the context of the long running drought.

"A lot of the firefighters fighting fires are from the area, and are well aware of the issues surrounding water. We rely heavily on the use of graders and more dry fire fighting techniques," NSW Rural Fire Service Inspecter Ben Shepherd said.

"The element we have most control over is fuel and we can remove a lot of that fuel by burning it."

More than 40 bushfires are currently burning across NSW, with 13 yet to be contained. More than 500 firefighters are battling the blazes.