Yass Valley fire fighters were on high alert yesterday as the most dangerous fire conditions in decades hit the region.
Wind gusts up to 60km/h and temperatures nearing 40 degrees Celsius combined to create a Catastrophic fire rating.
“Every fire station and fire fighter in the Southern Tablelands are to be ready to roll at a moment’s notice,” Peter Dyce, RFS community safety officer for the Southern Tablelands, said yesterday.
Residents received phone messages warning of the high danger and were advised to get out early if there’s any risk of fire.
“Leave if threatened by fire,” he said. “The best advice we can give to anybody is call 000 if they can see smoke and flames.”
However, he said, if residents spotted smoke in the distance they should check with local authorities first and the Rural Fire Service website.
In a blaze on Monday a volunteer fire fighter sustained severe burns to his hands and face while fighting a grass fire at Gundaroo.
He was airlifted to the burns unit at Concord Hospital for treatment, where he remains in a stable condition. His family is there with him; they declined to release his name.
Mr Dyce said the incident would be investigated.
The fire burnt 81 hectares between Gundaroo and Gunning, coming dangerously close to homes.
At the time of going to press, volunteer units were still on the scene, making sure the fire didn’t get out of control again.
Conditions were expected to cool overnight, with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting the change of a thunderstorm. Although little if any rain was expected to reach the ground.
“In the days following, the good news is that the temperatures will be slightly lower,” the bureau’s Julie Evans said.
The temperature should cool to a maximum of 28 degrees today and winds will drop to around 25km/h.
The mercury will heat up again in the lead up to the weekend, tomorrow will be 31, Friday 36 and 39 degrees is forecast for Saturday.
Mr Dyce said there may be another total fire ban by the weekend.
"We have two to three thousand volunteers and 240 appliances in our zone," Mr Dyce said.
"We are very well prepared if something does go wrong. However, you never know how well prepared you are until the time comes."
He again urged residents to ensure they have an up-to-date bushfire plan.