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South Coast firefighters and residents play waiting game with wind

Apart from the airstrip, the nearby racecourse – with a World War II bunker in its centre that would be used in an emergency on Saturday if needed – was also at risk.

Water bombing aircraft used the Moruya River to refill their floats as they tackled surrounding fires.

As of late afternoon, the main concerns for the Moruya fire control centre were the blazes near Broulee and also to the south of Moruya.

The mood at Broulee fire station was fairly relaxed.

“At the moment the fire’s still not a threat,” one volunteer said. “We are in a waiting game because there is still no active, high fire at the moment,” he said. “That’s how we want it.”

Ashley Graham, an RFS volunteer from the hamlet of Nerrigundah, inland from Narooma, which is further south, told The Sun-Herald he was back on duty just days after losing his home on New Year’s Eve.

All up, nine volunteers from the brigade lost their homes while out fighting blazes that day.

“I’m a bit shell-shocked, but I’ve got a bit of a grudge against this fire,” he said.

“If I’m not here I would be out looking for my dog,” he added, as the occasional black leaf dropped from the sky.

“It was a really good community, we’re going to lose a lot of good people,” he said.

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To add to the anxiety, Mr Graham woke on Friday morning by a would-be looter with a metal detector, prospecting the town’s now-destroyed post office.

A longstanding rumour had it that a former bushranger had buried stolen gold underneath it.

“We told him, ‘If you had any dignity and respect for what we’re going through, you wouldn’t be doing this,’ ” Mr Graham said.

Kelwyn White, an RFS spokeswoman at Moruya, said the cool change was due through after 5pm and could be a little stronger than expected, with steady winds of 30-40km/h, gusting to 60km/h.

One resident living to the south-west of Moruya who had moved to the town to take shelter on Saturday said it was unclear how much their property was at risk because the “Fires Near Me” app had not been updated for two days.

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