TARCUTTA was under threat yesterday from all directions after a fire broke out on Mates Gully Road and quickly spread toward homes in the village.
Firefighters acted quickly to put a containment line in west of the village to stop the fire reaching properties.
About 1pm, residents were told they could relocate or go to the Tarcutta RSL to shelter from the catastrophic weather conditions.
Winds of 80km-h, moving in a north and northeasterly direction, meant it was too dangerous to use water bombing aircraft.
The fire is believed to have started from a tree falling into power lines on Mates Gully Road, just after 11am.
The flames spread from the southern side of Tarcutta and by afternoon fires were closing in from the north, at Tangoo, and from the east at the Hume Highway.
Access was cut off from the village at 2.30pm because of deteriorating conditions.
A total 66 firefighters worked to control the blaze which had burned 550 hectares last night.
The Hume Highway was re-opened just after 5pm, although the RFS has urged residents to keep away where possible.
“The eastern flank impacted heavily on the Hume Highway and we believe some assets like guard rails and signage may have been lost,” RFS media liaison officer Matt Apps said.
The roads were dangerous for most of the afternoon with a large amount of timber bursting into flames and embers flying through the air.
Smoke filled the air across the town causing fear among residents who decided to stay.
“The biggest concern was the potential impact on the village of Tarcutta and the potential loss of rural properties,” Mr Apps said.
“The most difficult part of fighting the fire was gaining access to it due to the heavy smoke and the fire was quick and rolling across the hills.
“At this stage it is unconfirmed if any properties are damaged.
“We virtually had every single unit within the Riverina zone at fires today and we had strike teams from Fire and Rescue NSW.
“We’ve put in requests to get resources from Victoria and Albury.”
About 5pm a grader operator was taken to Wagga Base Hospital from Mates Gully Road after an accident in bush terrain that was being controlled.
A firefighter also suffered eye injuries from the smoke.
Power was cut to water treatment plants at Tarcutta and the Riverina Water County Council is advising residents to limit water consumption.
The Tarcutta brigade captain was taken up in a helicopter last night to get an aerial view of how best to contain the fire today.