Flood and fires: Recovery expert goes from Lismore to Tathra
THE man who coordinated Lismore's post flood recovery last year has been appointed to manage the support of the Tathra communities hit by devastating bushfires this week.
Yesterday the NSW government announced it will appoint former chief of the Victorian Country Fire Authority, Euan Ferguson, to co-ordinate support to communities hit by the fires.
It will be a return to what he knows best, as he lead the CFA through some turbulent times after the 2009 Victorian bushfires and subsequent Royal Commission.
Mr Ferguson, who managed the Northern Rivers flood recovery last year, is about to tour the small south-east beach town where the firestorm razed through the area.
It is estimated 69 houses and 30 caravans or cabins were destroyed, while some 39 houses were damaged and nearly 400 homes were either saved or not affected.
Residents who fled the fire will be driven around the town to view the damage in a bus, but they will not be allowed to disembark for fear of asbestos.
Earlier today Mr Ferguson spoke to media about how the area needed to be safe before the community could return.
"It's well known that asbestos dust, which arises after asbestos is burned, is very mobile and can get into the atmosphere,” he said.
"It can get into the lungs and cause fatal diseases, the asbestos concern is a very real concern. It's one of a number of issues the recovery agencies will be looking at over the next few days, weeks and months.”
Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers has confirmed the offer of vehicles from Fire and Rescue - which services the state's urban areas - were "not suitable” for fighting the bushfire, which was more than 1000 hectares in size.
The Rural Fire service said the blaze was the result of a "perfect storm” - very hot conditions, strong winds, low humidity and extremely dry bush.
It is understood a few people have been treated for smoke inhalation and breathing problems, while two firefighters suffered heat exhaustion and one woman was treated for minor burns.
So far the fire has burned through more than 1200 hectares and is not yet under control.
On Monday night the RFS downgraded its alert level to 'advice' and crews remain on ground to patrol and contain any burning.