Uncontrolled fire threatens Aussie homes

GEORGINA MITCHELL, ALEX MCCONACHIE
Last updated 21:24 19/01/2014

An emergency warning is in place for a fire burning out of control in the Australian state of New South Wales. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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Residents in a NSW town under threat from grass fires that have intensified following a southwesterly wind change are being advised to take shelter.

An emergency warning was issued on Sunday night for the Debden Road grass fires near Singleton, in the Hunter Valley.

''Firefighters are responding to the scene, but it is too late to leave,'' the Rural Fire Service (RFS) said on its website. ''Seek shelter now from the heat of the fire.''

Emergency warnings were earlier issued for the Minimbah fire, an out-of-control blaze that burnt through more than 8000 hectares around Wagga Wagga, and the fire in the Copperhannia National Park area, near Bathurst, which is also out of control.

The Minimbah bushfire was threatening properties as it moved towards Carabost, but the alert at 6pm (AEDT) decreased it to a watch-and-act level of danger.

Three homes have been confirmed destroyed by the Minimbah blaze.

Other buildings have also been lost and firefighters will assess the area when it's safe to do so.

Residents have been advised to leave if the path towards Tumbarumba, to the southeast, is clear.

''It is not safe to stay,'' the RFS said on its website.

About 100ha have been burnt by the fire near Bathurst, which at 6pm (AEDT) was heading east towards Trunkey Creek.

People in Trunkey Creek need to be aware of burning embers, the RFS said.

''These embers can start spot fires well ahead of the main fire front,'' it advises.

''Put out any spot fires that may start on your property.''

Two watch-and-act alerts remain in place.

Firefighters, assisted by water-bombing aircraft and heavy machinery, are backburning and building containment lines around the Minjary fire, which has burnt through 2675ha of scrub between  Canberra and Wagga Wagga.

Stock animals have reportedly been killed in the Minjary fire  but its unclear how many, the RFS said.

Another fire has entered a pine plantation near Bathurst and is ''proving difficult to contain'', the RFS said.

More than 60 firefighters, aircraft and heavy machinery are working to bring the 350ha Redbank fire under control.

More than 900 firefighters were deployed across NSW on Sunday, fighting 92 fires, 28 of which are uncontained.

High temperatures in the 30s and another tough day for  firefighters are predicted for Monday.

''The fire danger is going to be very high,'' an RFS spokesman said.

No ''significant'' rain is expected for the start of the week, he said.

''There'll be crew out until all hours doing what they can to strengthen containment lines and also patrolling a lot of those  fires to make sure they don't get out of hand.''

A community meeting for those affected by the fire near Bathurst will be held in the Trunkey Creek Community Hall at 8.30pm.

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- AAP

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