Lightning strikes ignite scrub, grass

LIGHTNING strikes caused havoc at the weekend, sparking at least 30 fires in the southern NSW region on Saturday night.

Estimated to have burnt more than 3000 hectares in the Riverina, the onslaught of fires meant hundreds of Rural Fire Service (RFS) personnel worked tirelessly throughout the weekend.

A 600-hectare blaze at Big Springs killed 1000 sheep and caused a large amount of infrastructure damage to fencing on Saturday night after lightning struck.

South easterly winds saw smoke spread across to Wagga while 60 firefighters battled to bring the Big Springs fire under control by morning.

It was initially reported a fire had also broken out at the soil conservation centre on the Olympic Highway, but this turned out to be a false alarm.

PICTURE GALLERY: Riverina electrical storm

Of concern to firefighters was a fire in Ournie, near Tumbarumba, which was still being battled last night and had burnt 550 hectares of bushland after starting at 8.30pm on Saturday.

It was not believed last night that any stock or property were under threat.

About 10 firefighters also fought a 210-hectare fire at Ruby Park which was brought under control by yesterday morning, along with another blaze on Boree Creek Road, which was about 100 hectares.

A 25-hectare fire at Wantabadgery Road near Oura was also sparked from the storm, along with a blaze on Pattersons Road.

A number of fires started at Junee, Coolamon and Carrathool, but were quickly contained by firefighters.

RFS community safety officer in the Riverina James Smith said they would be patrolling the fires spots tomorrow in the lead-up to strong winds expected to hit tomorrow.

He did concede that things were likely to get worse and urged residents to be vigilant and have their preparations in place.

Last night fires were also being battled around Griffith, including a fire near Naradhan that is unlikely to be brought under control by tomorrow.

NSW RFS spokesman Ben Shepherd said the situation was the worst seen in a number of years.

“At the moment we have nothing impacting on people, which is a good thing, but some of the fires won’t be contained prior to Tuesday’s bad weather,” he said.

Other minor incidents at the weekend saw Turvey Park Fire and Rescue NSW respond to calls about an air conditioner catching alight on Urana Street on Saturday at 9.40pm while a tree also caught fire on Blakemore Street at Ashmont a short time later.

To keep up to date with fires around the region and the state, visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or download the app Fires Near Me.

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