A fire near Minmi west of Newcastle has been down graded to watch and act status.
The scrub fire is burning in the area of Stockrington Road, Stockrington on the western side of the M1 Pacific Motorway.
Crews are also working around homes in Stockrington Road, Dog Hole Road and Seahampton Road.
Water bombing helicopters are being used to attack the fire.
The RFS says if you are in the area of Stockrington Road seek shelter as the fire impacts and if you are in the area of Minmi, follow your Bush Fire Survival Plan.
It says there is the potential for the fire to cross the M1 and impact the suburb of Minmi.
All lanes of the M1 are closed in both directions between Beresfield and Seahampton.
The Motorway is closed northbound at George Booth Drive in Seahampton and southbound is closed at the John Renshaw Drive roundabout in Beresfield.
Minmi Public School was evacuated as a precaution and have been taken to the community centre.
RFS spokesman Stuart O’Keefe says there is concern the fire could cross the motorway.
“Particularly to the west of the M1 we’re advising residents in that area to shelter in place and take advice from firefighters on the ground,” he said.
“The second one is for the suburb of Minmi and that is to enact your bushfire survival plan or, if you’ve chosen to relocate do so immediately.”
Residents prepare properties for ember attack
The owner of a takeaway shop at Minmi, Sharon, says she can see the fire from the back of her business, and fire trucks are pulling up around her.
“I was just speaking to a fireman at our back fence and he says it is coming our way, it’s just a matter of when, not if,” she said.
“They’ve told us to be alert and have everything ready to go if we need to.”
Resident Aaron Francis says some residents are evacuating, while he and others are busy hosing down their homes.
“I’ve blocked the gutters up and filled them and just got sprinklers out on the lawn,” he said.
“Packed all the important stuff like wedding photos and jewellery in the bags. but I haven’t taken them out of the house yet so we’ll just wait and see.”
Daniella Henriques is the manager at Hunter Valley Pallets – a family business about three kilometres from the Stockrington Road fire.
She says the area is covered in smoke and they are preparing for every eventuality.
“Well we’re just about ready to send the guys home,” she said.
“We’ll stay in the office and hopefully if anything happens then we’re all good.
“But if it gets out of control then we’ll be quick smart out of here – especially with a factory full of timber.”
Marie Milne, the Publican of the Minmi Hotel, says the situation is tense.
“It’s just really smoky, it looks like the wind direction has changed again,” she said.
“There’s choppers everywhere doing water drops and we’re just hosing down the pub and things like that but yeah it’s pretty scary actually.
“There’s people running all over town.
“I think a lot of people are evacuating.”