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Batlow gets moving

Residents at the first of two community meetings in Batlow this week.

Many residents in Batlow are moving out of town today, ahead of the return of extreme fire weather.

For some, like Marjory Tomlinson, it will be the second time they’ve shifted in a week.

“Myself and a friend will be going this morning,” Ms Tomlinson said.

“I haven’t unpacked from when I went to stay at a friend’s when conditions were bad on Tuesday, so I’m all ready to go.”

There’s been two community meetings in Batlow this week, warning residents that the town would be under threat from fire.

“The meetings were pretty clear that they (RFS) would prefer us out, which I completely understand,” Ms Tomlinson said.

While fire-fighters have so far done an extraordinary job of keeping the town fire-free, the Dunns Road blaze has been progressively moving closer to the town over the past 24 hours, breaking out into the Ardrossan Orchard yesterday afternoon, near the Old Tumbarumba Road, a few kilometres from the township.

Ms Tomlinson said there was a strong community spirit in the town.

“We’re all incredibly grateful for the work our firies have done so far in saving the town,” she said.

That sentiment was echoed by Ray Billing, who was busy this morning cleaning up his house, as best he could, to prepare it for potential fire.

But he planned to be in Tumut tonight, if not earlier.

“There’s a lot of families relocating, with one member staying back to tidy up and prepare their homes, ready to go at the drop of a hat,” Mr Billing said.

“I think most people are getting out of town and starting to enact their bushfire survival plans.”

Mr Billing said the message from the community meeting on Wednesday was that the current fire situation was unprecedented.

“The general message I got was that firefighters are doing a fantastic job, but they’ve never had to handle something like this before,” Mr Billing said.

“Batlow was never expected to be under threat like this, but it is. The fire is near us and it’s unpredictable.”