RESIDENTS at Kearsley and Aberdare fled their homes yesterday as a bushfire approached, but firefighters late last night managed to gain the upper hand.
The fire burned about 200 hectares of bush between Neath, Kearsley and Aberdare, forcing the closure of the road between the latter towns.
Police advised residents in Melbourne Street at Aberdare and Ellalong Street at Kearsley to evacuate about 5pm.
Flames were licking the tree canopy and the swirling wind was sending the fire towards houses.
The biggest problem for firefighters was constantly changing wind that one moment caused concern for properties, and the next pushed the fire back on itself.
Helicopters carried out waterbombing to help quell the fire front as it moved south-east towards Kearsley about 6pm.
By 6.30pm, much of the danger had passed.
As night fell, firefighters were conducting backburning operations in an attempt to establish containment lines around the fire.
The Rural Fire Service said crews could be working behind houses and using cleared areas to contain the fire.
"The immediate threat to properties has eased [but] people in the area should remain vigilant, monitor the situation and follow the advice of firefighters," the service said last night.
The Rural Fire Service also said residents might see an increase in smoke early this morning as backburning was carried out.
With temperatures expected to top 40 degrees today, a total fire ban is in place.