31 January 2020

"After two long months" North Black Range fire near Braidwood extinguished

| Michael Weaver
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The North Black Range fire

The North Black Range fire west of Braidwood on 1 December. Photo: Michael Weaver, Region Media.

It destroyed five houses and disrupted people’s lives, but the North Black Range fire that cut off roads including the Kings Highway and burned through almost 40,000 hectares has been extinguished, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service.

The bushfire started in Tallaganda National Park from a suspected lightning strike on November 26 and came within a few kilometres of Braidwood three days later. It also threatened outlying communities such as Majors Creek and burnt through Bombay, where one house was lost. It also closed the Araluen Road between Braidwood and Moruya.

As the fire spread through 38,486 hectares, the firefighting efforts impacted the water supplies in Braidwood, with the town elevated to Level 4 water restrictions on 10 January.

The fire was contained on the morning of January 2 and listed as ‘patrol’ on January 8.

It was officially extinguished at 12 pm on Tuesday, January 28, and has now been removed from the NSW RFS map.

Firefighters from across NSW and Victoria were involved in fighting the fire, along with an army of volunteers known as ‘the mozzie squads’ who relentlessly carried out firefighting and property protection.

Darren Marks, of the NSW RFS’s Lake George Zone, said firefighters have spent 20 days performing regular patrols to ensure there were no hot spots remaining.

“After two long months, the North Black Range fire has officially been listed as out,” Mr Marks said.

“We wish to extend a big thank you to our volunteer firefighters and the local community for all your help over the last two months. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

Meanwhile, ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) said yesterday (30 January), the Beard Fire, which started on 22 January and spread towards Oaks Estate, has now been extinguished.

The ESA said it will continue to monitor the area over the coming days, where a very high and severe fire danger rating are in place on Friday and Saturday respectively.

Another fire situated to the west of the ACT border, the Mary’s Hill fire, has also been extinguished, according to the ACT Emergency Services Agency.

The Green Wattle Creek fire, which has burnt through over 278,700 hectares in the Wollondilly area south-west of Sydney and claimed the lives of two NSW RFS volunteers, has been contained.

“Since this fire started on the 27 November 2019, it has been challenging, burning through some very difficult terrain, destroying property and tragically seeing the loss of life,” a NSW RFS spokesperson said.

Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, died on December 19, when a “widow-maker” gum tree fell on the cab of their fire truck.

“It is a huge achievement to reach containment tonight. Thank you to all those who have worked so hard for months to get to this point,” the spokesperson said.

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