Bush fire evacuees allowed to visit homes

Jan. 16, 2013 at 10:08 AM
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SYDNEY, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Australian authorities said they are allowing victims of a huge bush fire in northwest New South Wales to temporarily return to their homes.

The more than 100 evacuees will be able to inspect their properties, but officials said it was still unclear when it will be safe for them to return permanently, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday.

Police are urging evacuees not to disturb any wreckage because the area has been declared a crime scene.

The massive bush fire has destroyed at least 40 homes, damaged more than 100 buildings and burned through an estimated 42,000 acres.

Some 580 firefighters, 152 trucks and 72 aircraft are working to bring the fire under control ahead of Friday when hot and windy conditions are forecast.

"The next 48 hours its extremely important that we consolidate all our containment lines so we make sure we can protect any potential breakouts," said John Wittall of the Rural Fire Service.

A watch-and-act alert remains in place for the bush fire that is burning in the Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran.

Another fire to the northeast is burning in the Pilliga Nature Reserve and has cut access to the Newell Highway between Coonabarabran and Narrabri

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