Some train services across the Blue Mountains are resuming today after the recent bushfires, and tourists are being urged to come back to the mountains and beyond.
Firefighters are still working on three major blazes that destroyed around 200 homes in the area.
The fires have also caused significant damage to railway infrastructure but from today diesel services such as the Dubbo XPT and Sydney to Broken Hill train will resume.
Electric train services on the Blue Mountains Line are not expected to be running again until November 11, with replacement buses in place between Mount Victoria and Lithgow.
The chairman of Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon Tourism, Randall Walker, says the region is open for business but some people have overreacted.
“They’re cancelling forward bookings and there’s no reason to cancel forward bookings for November and Christmas,” Mr Walker said.
While some tourist attractions remain closed, he says popular spots such as Wentworth Falls, Leura, Katoomba, Lithgow and Oberon remain unaffected.
Back-burning means more smoke
Fire crews again spent the night working on containment lines around the major fires.
The Rural Fire Service says strong fire breaks have been built around the State Mine Fire, which stretches from Lithgow across the Blue Mountains and into the Hawkesbury region.
Just over 60 fires at now burning across New South Wales, with 22 out of control.
RFS spokeswoman Lexi King says it will still be quite smoky in many areas throughout the day.
“There will be ongoing back-burning on the majority of those fires today just to strengthen those lines even more with predicted hot weather tomorrow,” she said.
“There is some cloud cover there so that is going to push the smoke down even further.
“We do ask people to be very aware when they’re driving and anyone who has respiratory illnesses to take precautions.
“Unfortunately we do need to get that back-burning done to consolidate those lines.”
CSIRO examines lost homes
A team from the CSIRO has begun examining what factors caused the loss of homes and how better design could help in the future.
Justin Leonard, the CSIRO’s research leader in the area of bushfire urban design, says it is difficult to retrofit existing homes to make them more fire safe.
“It’s a real task to turn something that really wasn’t intended to be bushfire resistant into something that was,” Mr Leonard said.
“For those people tackling that sort of thing they really only get the benefit once they’ve covered all the risks, because the house is more or less as good as the weakest link in that entire design.”
He says many of the homes were not directly under threat from the fire front, but instead caught alight because of embers landing on wooden elements around the properties, such as wooden decks.
“Any combustible elements, particularly ones close to the ground, were very vulnerable,” Mr Leonard said.
“Things like fences and retainer walls and even verandah posts that were close to the grasses and combustible mulch and garden beds around the houses.”