Dunns Road fire claims more than 100 homes, hundreds more outbuildings and counting

A windscreen view as RFS crews head into the Dunns Road bushfire. Picture: R McDonald/NSW RFS Riverina Zone
A windscreen view as RFS crews head into the Dunns Road bushfire. Picture: R McDonald/NSW RFS Riverina Zone

NINETEEN days after lightning struck near Tarcutta, the Dunns Road bushfire has destroyed more than 100 homes and counting.

The NSW Rural Fire Service released an update on Wednesday on the number of homes lost, adding another several hundred outbuildings were also destroyed in the fire that had torn through hundreds of thousands of hectares in the Snowy Valleys and Riverina highlands.

The last figure provided by the RFS was 41 residences, announced on January 5. It was announced the same day as it came to light 47-year-old Goulburn man David Harrison died as he helped a friend defend his Batlow Road property.

NSW RFS Riverina Highlands public liaison officer Fiona Amundson said the number of homes destroyed, however is expected to rise in the coming days with teams still assessing the damage in fire-affected areas.

"They are working their way through the impacted areas, but are only half way through," she said.

It was estimated the number of firefighters on the ground in recent days to be in excess of 500, armed with more than 100 firetrucks and 15 aircraft as they work to contain the massive firefront.

They are joined by more than 120 pieces of heavy plant equipment, clearing debris and establishing and consolidating containment lines.

Unfortunately the fire ignited in "very difficult conditions" and in an area where properties were in the line of the fire, said Ms Amundson.

"When a fire starts we hope it can be something that is put out quickly but we acknowledge it started in difficult conditions," she said.

A flare-up in the Tooma Road area at Tumbarumba on Tuesday pushed the fire back to watch and act status for a time until it was brought under some control and conditions eased. Firefighters are now focusing on containing the blaze to the south of the town, in the Mount Garland area.

It is also still burning, slowly but actively, in the Bogong Peaks wilderness to the south around Goobarragandra.

The fire is no longer considered a threat to Talbingo, Cabramurra and Batlow, and currently isn't endangering Khancoban - where a number of roads remain closed - and Jingellic.

There is still active fire in the Ellerslie area near Adelong, where crews are working to directly attack the flames and black out the fireground.

People are also encouraged to stay away from Cabramurra and Talbingo until it is declared safe from dangers such as falling burnt-out trees.

While conditions have eased, Ms Amundson said it is preemptive to say the threat had passed.

She said firefighters are working hard to get the blaze under control and away from buildings.

Meg Schumer, who stayed behind at Kunama to put out spot fires, said she "lost track of the days," but even though the fire looks to be easing off the extent of the damage was yet to sink in.

She lost hay, a crop of hay, a hay shed, pine plantation ready to harvest and pasture and a big pump.

Despite all this damage, she still said there were a lot of people worse off than her.

"There's so much damage to fencing ... a mate has lost a house and shed and seeing it all burnt is just weird," she said.

Ms Schumer said everyone who was affected by the bushfires have "a long road ahead" of them, so the community needs to come together and help each other rebuild.

"Everyone is trying to get back into their normal routines, but ... everyone is just exhausted and on edge."

The Dunns Road bushfire remains out of control, but activity is easing across the fireground.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting rain in the coming days, which the RFS believes will further reduce fire activity.

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