UPPER Hunter residents are urged to plan for dangerous weather conditions and possible fires, while fire containment continues in the west of the shire and clean up and recovery operations begin.
“Every home needs a bush fire survival plan,” mayor Wayne Bedggood said.
“Speak to your family, speak to your neighbours and be prepared.”
The Sir Ivan fire reached the Cassilis region on Sunday.
Across the Warrumbungle and Upper Hunter shires dozens of homes and other buildings were destroyed, more than 54,000 hectares of land is burnt out and unknown numbers of native, livestock and domestic animals have died.
Cr Bedggood thanked the firefighters and other support services.
“Firefighters came not just from our shire but from far and wide to protect our residents,” he said.
“I also acknowledge and thank the council crews who assisted with water carting and road closures over a long and frightening Sunday night and are still on the ground, fire break grading, clearing roads of dangerous trees, replacing guideposts and checking bitumen and guardrails for heat damage.”
While the main evacuation centre was the Merriwa RSL, council also opened the Merriwa Showground, Merriwa Caravan Park and School of Arts as evacuation centres in case they were required.
“Council staff will be on call again this weekend to respond if needed anywhere in the shire,” Cr Bedggood said.
“Recovery operations in the Cassilis region are beginning.”
Council is seeking financial donations for the Upper Hunter Mayoral Bushfire Appeal to assist residents impacted by the bushfire.
Donations can be made at any of council’s offices or by direct deposit: BSB: 032 619 Account: 128688 Reference: BUSHFIRE
A drop in information centre will be opened at the Cassilis Community Hall on Friday, February 17, until further notice.
Representatives from Family and Community Services (FACS), Police, RMS, Local Land Services, RFS, SES, and council will be available.
“Council is offering other assistance directly to residents who have suffered loss and hardship,” Cr Bedggood said.
“Council has a Rate Hardship Policy for those ratepayers requiring relief as a result of this devastating event.
“Council will also assist by providing free access to the Merriwa and Cassilis Waste Facilities for those residents requiring to dispose of fire damaged items as a result of the bushfire.
“This event has impacted in some way on many residents including Council staff.
“There are numerous services available and I encourage everyone impacted to ask for help.”
In responding to the Sir Ivan fire, council is operating under the direction of the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and as members of the Local Emergency Management Committee which includes Police, Merriwa Rivers RFS, Merriwa SES, Merriwa VRA, and Fire and Rescue.
Local Land Services are coordinating fodder and hay donations. For more information phone 6841 6525.The main drop off point for Cassilis is Dalkeith on Rotherwood Rd (west of Cassilis) 0427 761 123.
Donations of household items can be made to local and established charities.
Financial donations to the Upper Hunter Mayoral Bushfire Appeal can be made at any of Upper Hunter Shire Council offices or by direct deposit:
BSB: 032 619
Warrumbungle Shire Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal (Sir Ivan Fire) - contact Warrumbungle Shire Council or visit www.warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au/news/articles/warrumbungle-shire-mayor-s-bushfire-appeal-sir-ivan-fire
Farmers affected by the bushfires needing assistance with fodder, livestock assessment or emergency water and reporting of damage should call the Department of Primary Industries hotline on 1800 814 647
For information on personal hardship and distress assistance, contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.
To apply for a concessional loan, grant or freight subsidy, contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit www.raa.nsw.gov.au.
Further information on disaster assistance is available on the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website www.disasterassist.gov.au
New South Wales emergency information and response website at www.emergency.nsw.gov.au.
NSW Rural Fire Service www.rfs.nsw.gov.au