CONTAINMENT: Rural Fire Service volunteers work hard to supress the fire at Tabulam yesterday.
CONTAINMENT: Rural Fire Service volunteers work hard to supress the fire at Tabulam yesterday. MARC STAPELBERG

'We're not out of the woods': Fire emergency at Tabulam

FIREFIGHTERS from NSW have been joined by their colleagues from Queensland as they sought to protect properties from the Tabulam fire after it flared up on Friday afternoon.

The fire has intensified since Tuesday when is was allegedly started by a woman burning off.

Rural Fire Service volunteers have been battling in increasingly windy conditions which meant a number of warning messages were issued advising people to take shelter as the fire increased.

As the strike teams undertook fire protection of properties along the Bruxner Highway, increasingly windy conditions meant authorities needed to prevent traffic moving between Tabulam and Drake.

Lismore apiarist John McKenzie keeps bees near Tabulam and was frantic with worry over his 60 hives.

"My business is at the top of old Bruxner Rd and they are right in the middle of it all,” he said.

"I was just about to start making a profit.”

Minister for police and emergency services Troy Grant was viewing the damage in the company of Richmond Police District RFS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers.

Deputy Commissioner Rogers said he was proud of the efforts of everyone involved in protecting the community.

"All the fire agencies have done some brilliant work,” he said.

"Even though conditions have eased the battle is not finished, dry because of the sustained drought

"We are not out of the wood by any means.”

High fuel loads, low moisture and gusty winds have combined to provide firefighters with challenging conditions, he said.

"The incident management team have a few days to get containment on the Tabulam fires,” he said.

"Next week the hot weather will return and we need have all the containment under control.”

Thomas George MP said he wanted thank all the volunteers and his heart goes out to those who have suffered from the fires.

Queensland Rural Fire Service strike team leader Andrew Rose said he was part of a 33 crew, 10 light and medium appliances plus two support vehicles and a tanker.

"We are here for three days to see what we can do,” he said.

"Some of crews here were up in Townsville helping with the floods and now they are here fighting the fires.”

RFS South East Queensland Superintendent Alan Gillespie said it was important to realise they are facing fire burning in very thick scrub.

"We are in hilly country and this is a rapidly growing bushfire,” he said.

"Our job here is to support the RFS and other fire authorities, we have crews in fire property protection to endure while aircraft tackle the front of the fire.”