COOLER conditions on Tuesday night brought welcome relief for Monaro fire fighters, but authorities spent yesterday and today (Thursday) preparing affected communities for the return of catastrophic fire conditions predicted later in the week.
A public meeting was held on Wednesday at Numeralla to warn residents to prepare for the worst and to move stock.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is predicting extreme weather conditions deteriorating to catastrophic on Monday, with the return of very high temperatures and high winds.
Monaro Team Rural Fire Service Inspector Fred Nichols advised the packed meeting of the likely weather conditions and direction of the fire and to be prepared for fire and move stock to safer locations.
"People need to act sooner rather than later," Inspector Nichols said.
He said the fire is currently burning in the Kybeyan Range across Dangelong Nature Reserve and into the Kybeyan Valley.
"The fire front is moving in a north easterly direction towards Countegany.
"The wind direction is predicted to stay predominantly southerly, reducing the threat to Countegany on Wednesday."
Late yesterday, the massive 15 kilometre fire front was about six kilometres away from Numeralla and 12 kilometres from Countegany.
Authorities are taking advantage of the reprieve in weather conditions to protect property, putting in containment lines around houses and mopping up around the perimeter of the vast fire front in the Mount Forest Road (also known as the Yarrabin fire) and Kybeyan Valley areas.
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Inspector Nichols said if the predicted north-west wind change occurs on Friday it will push the fire away from Numeralla, Warrens Corner and Countegany and into the Wadbilliga National Park and the coastal escarpment.
An estimated 9,500 hectares of grass and bushland have been burnt in the Yarrabin / Mount Forrest Road / Kybeyan area since Sunday.
One dwelling on the Mount Forrest Road has been destroyed, leaving a young family homeless.
Inspector Nichols said the cause of the fire is not known at this stage.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) livestock officer Doug Alcock said livestock losses were being assessed yesterday (Wednesday).
A massive fire fighting effort on Tuesday saw 56 people combating fires on the ground, with about 15 fire trucks. Eight bulldozers and graders created containment lines. In the air six helicopters and three fixed wing aircraft were water bombing in inaccessible steep bushland.
Inspector Nichols said affected communities could go to safer locations available at the Nimmitabel town hall and the Numeralla Anglican church.
"We are reinforcing the message to the community to prepare for the possibility of fire, move stock and leave early as conditions are expected to be very bad on Friday Saturday and worsening on Monday," he said.
Police inspector Tony Hill said accommodation could be arranged for people who chose to relocate, which can be arranged at the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at Polo Flat next to the Fire Control Centre at Polo Flat. Alternatively people can ring the Monaro RFS on 64550455.
For injured wildlife also contact Doug Alcock or the local wildlife rescue group LAOKO on 64561313