UPDATE (8:30pm): The New England Highway is due to be open to motorists by 9pm according to Hunter Valley Rural Fire Service spokesman Steve Brown.
The prominent gateway to the Upper Hunter has been closed in both directions between Range Road and Hermitage Road since 1:45pm this afternoon as crews continue to battle a bushfire on the corner of the Golden Highway.
Detours will remain in place via Range Road and the Golden Highway until the stretch of highway reopens (see video).
MEANWHILE authorities have confirmed that the Gospers Mountain fire has now jumped the Putty Road (south of Putty - 86km from Singleton) which has been closed in both directions since midday.
The bushfire has grown from a size of 17,000 to 45,401 hectares since Friday morning.
"We are expected a Southerly change which will blow smoke from the Gospers Mountain fire towards Putty, Howes Valley and Singleton this evening," Mr Brown (Hunter Valley RFS Public Liaison Officer) told the Singleton Argus moments ago.
"But there also will be an increase in fire behaviour."
See video of Singleton's sunset on Tuesday evening - click here.
An evacuation centre has been established at Singleton Diggers Complex at 8 Dorsman Drive, Singleton Heights.
Doors have been open since 4pm.
A statement from the NSW Rural Fire Service warned locals that a "catastrophic" fire danger was forecast for the remainder of the week.
As a result, a total of 35 fire trucks and 180 firefighters (many travelling from as far as Victoria) have been stationed at the Singleton Army Base since this morning.
For more information about the fires, contact the Bush Fire Information Line - 1800 679 737
In case of emergency, contact 000.
OTHER BUSHFIRES NEARBY:
WINE COUNTRY DRIVE, NORTH ROTHBURY
Lower Hunter RFS spokesman Terry Burns confirmed this afternoon's bushfire at North Rothbury caused damage to five buildings (four homes and a shed).
An emergency warning was declared at 3:30pm residents situated on Wine Country Drive to seek shelter and wait until attending fire crews were able to assist in evacuations.
"There were three firefighters who suffered smoke inhalation that were treated by an ambulance and one suffered a head injury so four were treated by an ambulance overall," Burns told the Singleton Argus this evening.
"Two of them were also hospitalised but they are in a stable condition."
Though the fire continues to burn in the area this evening firefighters are getting the upper hand according to a NSW RFS alert published at 7pm.
Locals are advised to monitor conditions.
An emergency warning had also been sent out to Greta residents advising those in the area to seek shelter at 4:30pm.
The bushfire was located on Harper Street and bound for Hollingshed Street.
Houses were evacuated from the Wyndham Estate while aircraft assisted crews on the ground right up until 7:10pm this evening.
"Everybody did their best in trying conditions today and it was a pretty good outcome that no lives were lost," Terry Burns (Lower Hunter RFS Public Liaison Officer) added.
EXPLANATION of fire danger ratings:
- LOW-MODERATE: Fires can be easily controlled and may spread up to 250 metres an hour. Make sure your Bushfire Survival Plan is up to date.
- HIGH: Fires can be controlled but still present a threat. Embers may be blown ahead of the fire and around homes, causing other fires to occur close to the main fire. Rates of spread up to 500 metres an hour are possible. Make sure your Bushfire Survival Plan is up to date.
- VERY HIGH: Fires can be difficult to control and present a very real threat. There may be ember attack up to two kilometres from the fire front and rates of spread up to 1km an hour. Review your Bushfire Survival Plan with your family.
- SEVERE: Fires will likely be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving with flames that may be higher than roof tops. There may be ember attack up to 4km from the fire front and rates of over spread up to 1.5km an hour. Leaving early is the safest option for your survival. Well prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety but only stay if you are physically and mentally prepared to defend in these conditions. If you're not prepared, leave early in the day.
- EXTREME: Fires can be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving with flames in the tree tops and higher than roof tops. Thousands of embers will be blown up to 6km from the fire front, causing other fires to start and spread quickly ahead of the main fire. Rates of spread can be up to 2km an hour. Leaving early is the safest option for your survival. Leave early in the day if you are not prepared to the highest level such as if your home is specially designed, constructed or modified and situated to withstand a fire and you are well prepared and can actively defend it if a fire starts.
- CATASTROPHIC: Fires will likely be uncontrollable, unpredictable and very fast moving with highly aggressive flames extending high above tree tops and buildings. Thousands of embers will be blown violently into and around homes, causing other fires to start and spread quickly up to 10km ahead of the main fire with rates of spread up to 5km an hour. Ensure your survival is the primary consideration in any decision.The safest option is for you and your family to leave in the early morning of any day declared Catastrophic even the day before as soon as the rating is issued. Under no circumstances will it be safe to stay and defend.