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Firefighters battle 30 uncontrolled blazes in NSW

Published: 6:54AM Sunday January 13, 2013 Source: AAP

Hundreds of firefighters continue to battle about 30 uncontrolled bushfires across NSW, including a "large and dangerous" fire threatening a world-leading observatory in Warrumbungle National Park.

Police evacuated residents in the area around Siding Spring in northern NSW this afternoon after the Rural Fire Service issued an emergency warning.

"This is a large and dangerous bush fire. It is burning in the area around Timor Road near Siding Spring Observatory," the emergency warning says.

Administered by the Australian National University's research school of astronomy and astrophysics, the Siding Spring Observatory is the nation's top optical and infrared observatory and one of the top facilities of its kind in the world.

The fire, west of Coonabarabran, is also threatening about a dozen isolated properties at Mt Woorut and a southerly wind change is forecast to affect the area.

People in the Bugaldie area are also being advised to monitor the situation as smoke and embers may be pushed their way. Firefighters and waterbombing aircraft are on scene.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has advised all people around the Siding Spring Observatory to leave immediately if the path is clear along Timor Road in an easterly direction towards Coonabarabran.

The Mt Woorut fire is one of 30 fires that remain uncontained in NSW.

Firefighters have issued watch and act warnings for two other fires. These are at Nangar Road in Eugowra and Rocky Glen Road in Bendermeer.

Meanwhile, a cool change has brought relief to NSW Rural Fire Service officers fighting bushfires in other areas across the state.

Today, more than 190 firefighters are working to contain a bushfire burning 12km west of Sussex Inlet, near Shoalhaven.

The fire has burnt more than 8400 hectares but there is no immediate threat to properties.

At Yarrabin, near Cooma, more than 100 firefighters continue to establish containment lines and extinguish spot fires, with no threat to properties.

The fire has burnt through more than 9800 hectares of bushland and is moving away from Cooma in an easterly direction.

Residents returning to properties have been warned to be aware of falling trees and branches, particularly in the Mt Forest Road area.

Near Yass, more than 70 firefighters are working on containment lines around a fire. The blaze has been contained.

In the state's north about 20 fires continue to burn uncontained after lightning storms on last night ignited 45 new fires.

Tasmanian fire crews dig in

Tasmanian fire crews have made solid progress on consolidating containment lines around bushfires still burning ahead of higher fire danger conditions forecast for Thursday.

Tasmania Fire Service spokeswoman Shannon Fox said the watch and act message for the uncontained 24,040-hectare blaze at Forcett would be reviewed later today.

Firefighters had been strengthening containment lines around Bream Creek and Marion Bay and also at Lagoon Bay, but had to eventually pull out due to increased winds, she said.

"In Taranna, we've got a good, strong containment line in but we're working on looking after some hot spots that are within the already burnt out areas," she said.

"What we are really trying to do is be prepared for Thursday when we expect fire danger ratings to increase again."

At Lake Repulse, fire crews consolidated containment lines to the south of Brown Mountain and New Zealand firefighters worked on containment lines at the Broad River Valley, Fox said.

Narelle no longer a threat

Severe Tropical Cyclone Narelle is no longer a threat to West Australian communities but residents have been warned to avoid potential hazards caused by storm damage.

The all clear has been given to the state's north in and near Exmouth and Coral Bay.

However, Coral Bay residents should remain cautious with strong winds still impacting the area.

The Bureau of Meteorology said this afternoon that the category three cyclone was about 355km west of Exmouth and 440km northwest of Carnarvon, and moving south southwest at 14km/h.

It is expected to continue south southwest and not come closer to the coast before weakening.

The bureau says the cyclone is also unlikely to produce gales on the coast, although a severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for parts of the Gascoyne and Central West districts, including coastal areas between Cape Cuvier and Northhampton.

Tides along the west Pilbara coast and down the west coast are likely to rise above the normal high tide mark with flooding of low lying coastal areas possible, the bureau said.