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A woman who made the inexplicable decision to burn rubbish during Tuesday's statewide total fire ban, starting a bushfire that has resulted in the destruction of several homes, has been charged by police.
The woman, 40, allegedly set fire to rubbish located in a large steel container in her backyard at Tabulam about 8am on Tuesday morning while the entire state was in a fire ban amid high temperatures and strong wind.
The garbage fire was then left unattended and proceeded to spread to bushland behind her home, police said in a statement.
When the woman discovered the fire had spread, she rang triple zero and "unsuccessfully attempted to extinguish the flames with a backyard hose," police said.
The fire burned out of control throughout Tuesday, threatening lives and properties including an Aboriginal settlement that was damaged. One building was destroyed. © Julie HeardAn emergency has been declared as strong winds fan the Tingha fire near Inverell.
After easing somewhat overnight, the fire was upgraded to an emergency again on Wednesday morning as gusty north-westerly winds worsened conditions for firefighters who battled to contain the blaze.
At the same time, firefighters in the region were battling another bushfire emergency threatening lives and homes at Tingha, along with several other bushfires.
It wasn't until Wednesday evening that the Tabulam fire was downgraded from an emergency to watch-and-act.
The NSW Rural Fire Service confirmed properties had been destroyed in the fire, but would not say how many. Police said it could be up to seven homes.
The fire continues to burn although it is not currently threatening properties. Residents are advised to continue monitoring the situation.
An evacuation centre has been set up at Bonalbo Bowling Club on Woodenbong Road, and a number of schools will be closed on Thursday.
The woman has been charged with intentionally causing fire and being reckless to its spread, and setting fire during total fire ban.
She is due to appear before Casino Local Court on February 27.