Evacuees from around the region have gathered in Wagga to discuss the next steps towards recovery in the wake of fires.
Up to 1100 displaced people from Batlow, Adelong, Tumbarumba and Talbingo gathered in the Equex Centre on Monday afternoon.
RFS representative Peter Jones fronted the crowd to describe conditions in the towns, and advised caution to anyone considering returning.
"We're doing everything we can to get people back in, but significant tree damage and damage to power lines makes that hard," Mr Jones told the crowd.
"We're not saying go back into your towns, we're saying to wait and be patient until it's safe to get back in."
Tumut and Adelong
At the moment, Tumut is still accessible via Gocup Road.
Adelong is also accessible but remains without many services including drinkable water. Anyone returning to Adelong will need to boil water before drinking.
Matthew Hyde from the Snowy Valleys Council told the crowd that mobile phone reception was intermittent but holding up in both Tumut and Adelong.
According to Mr Jones, the Dunns Road fire has reached a size of 300,000 hectares and is likely to continue growing towards the east.
Mr Jones said back burning operations would begin on Tuesday in the hopes of containing the fire from Wondalga to west Blowering Dam, and stopping the fire impacting Tumut.
Talbingo is accessible, but non-essential travel will be prohibited. Anyone travelling to the town will have to produce proof of residency to be given access. Most services remain down.
Talbingo has lost six structures, and sustained some damage but remains largely intact.
There has been no progress on restoring communication capabilities in Talbingo.
Batlow is not accessible and will likely remain cut-off "for 48 hours if not more". Roads are not clear of debris, trees, dead stock and felled power lines. Most services are not restored.
The town centre remains standing, but many structures including private residences have been lost.
Mr Jones said the RFS and RMS Authority would continue to conduct damage assessments and monitor the situation before the town would be reopened. They are concerned that some of the burnt structures may be laced with asbestos.
"It will take some time to get people back into Batlow," Mr Jones said.
"The reason being that there is a lack of services."
Matthew Hyde from the Snowy Valleys Council told the crowd that "roads will be prioritised" as the repairs and restoration efforts begin.
Aside from road damage, Mr Hyde said electricity had caused the highest concern for Batlow.
"There is extensive damage, and in some areas the entire system requires rebuilding," he said.
"It could be a week perhaps longer before electricity is restored to some parts."
At the moment, Mr Hyde said he was aware of three power poles that were seriously damaged and required complete replacement in Batlow.
As for water, Mr Hyde showed more optimism, saying that "the infrastructure is fine" in all of the towns so far assessed. But it will still be a few weeks until the water is safe to drink before boiling.
Mr Hyde further said that in time, the towns will be given reception hubs to address the ongoing communication dilemmas currently faced.
Adaminaby, Tumbarumba and Khancoban
It is still unsafe to travel to Adaminaby as the fire is still uncontained there, and will likely continue for days to come.
Residents should not return to Tumbarumba until further advised, and Wagga Road to Tumbarumba remains closed to the public until further notice. The town has no power, no phone service and no drinkable water. Anyone left will need to boil water before drinking.
Mr Jones said the "threat has eased for Tumbarumba", but did indicate that ongoing activity near Westbrook Road around Ellerslie did cause concern.
A return of unfavourable weather conditions towards the end of the week could serve to threaten Tumbarumba once more.
Mr Jones described Khancoban as "alive and well" and "a lot more comfortable today that it was two days ago".
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