Authorities have warned Batlow residents to take caution around fire damage with asbestos present in certain buildings.
The old Batlow hospital was one building which burnt to the ground known to contain asbestos, and Stephen Beaman of the Environment Protection Authority warned residents to avoid such areas.
"If asbestos is suspected or identified, the site may be sprayed with a non-toxic, coloured PVA glue, to give a temporary seal to reduce the risk of airborne asbestos fibres," the executive director of hazardous incidents and environmental health said.
Asbestos was not the only potential hazard in a fire zone, according to Mr Beaman.
"Houses, sheds and other buildings that have been burnt in a bushfire can leave potential health and safety hazards in the remaining rubble and ash," he said.
"Hazardous household materials that may be present after a bushfire include asbestos, chemicals (including household, cleaning, garden and farm chemicals), ash and dust (including ash from burnt treated timbers) solar panels and damaged gas bottles.
"Other hazards may include unsafe building structures, unsafe trees, electrical hazards and damaged or missing pool fencing."
Mr Beaman said it was important not to enter a property until being advised it is safe to do so by emergency services, utility companies and local councils.
"If your home or buildings have been damaged in the fires, an assessment is undertaken by NSW government agencies for the protection of you, your family and neighbours," he said.
"The assessment must be completed before you can safely return to your property."
The EPA outlined a list of aspects to consider and precautions to take when reentering a bushfire affected property:
- Do not enter your property until you are advised that it is safe
- Electrical hazards could be present, including live power lines or active solar panels
- Buildings and other structures may be unstable to enter or walk over
- Sewerage services may be disrupted, causing health risks
- Hot, smouldering coals and other potentially hazardous materials may be hidden under rubble
- Building rubble should not be buried as it may contain hazardous materials
- Don't spread ash around your property, particularly if asbestos materials were used in your home or other structures, or copper-chrome-arsenate-treated timber was burnt.
- Moisten the ash with water to minimise dust and keep damp but do not use high pressure water sprays
- Wear a P2 face mask and protective clothing