Days before fire contained

Last updated 08:59 15/01/2013

Raging wildfires sweep across Australia's biggest optical space observatory and destroy at least 28 homes in New South Wales. Travis Brecher reports.

bushfire
Fairfax Australia
INFERNO: National Parks employee Mark Barrow shot this photo on the road between Coonabarabran and the Warrambungles on Sunday. It could be days before the fire is contained.

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The most destructive bushfire in NSW in more than a decade will take days to bring under control but firefighters are warning it will be weeks before their job is done.

At least 33 homes and 50 sheds have been destroyed by the blaze in the Warrumbungle National Park, which has wiped out 40,000 hectares.

It's one of 122 fires burning across NSW after 11 days of fires, with 29 of the blazes still uncontained.

Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said firefighters had been "absolutely flogged in the most atrocious of conditions" near Coonabarabran.

More than 100 residents camped out overnight in evacuation centres in the town in the state's central west.

"Obviously (that's) the fire of most concern and requiring the majority of resources," he said today.

"We will be days away before we even come close to saying it's contained and then the patrolling and the mop-up work will go on literally for weeks."

Fitzsimmons said 155 firefighters from greater Sydney, the Hunter region and other parts of the north coast had arrived on the scene so they could rotate crews to manage fatigue.

He said they would taking advantage of more favourable weather conditions over the coming days before the weekend brings hotter and drier weather.

The firefighters are being supported by bulldozers, trucks and aerial teams

"But it is a really dangerous and hostile environment now," Fitzsimmons told the Seven Network.

"In many ways, it's somewhat more dangerous than when the ferocity of the fire was bearing down because you have so much timber and heavy trees burning, susceptible to collapse."

The fire is currently burning in a northerly direction in the Bugaldie area, the RFS said on Tuesday.

Acting Premier Andrew Stoner said a wind change had removed the threat to Coonabarabran, but the fire could still threaten settlements to the north of the national park.

Another fire is burning northeast of Coonabarabran along the Newell Highway but it's not threatening properties.

Stoner yesterday warned NSW had been through "a hell of a week with bushfires" and it was not over yet.

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