A state of alert in the ACT has been issued by the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) this afternoon (2 January).
The ESA commissioner and emergency controller in the ACT, Georgeina Whelan, said the state of alert has been issued ahead of worsening fire conditions expected on Saturday.
“We’re asking people to be alert but not alarmed as the situation unfolds in the next 72 hours,” Ms Whelan said.
“As a community, we must all be prepared ahead of more extreme weather conditions that are forecast for the ACT and our surrounding region in the coming days.
“The state of alert that has been put in place will ensure our emergency services are able to be as responsive as possible to any risks of bushfire in the coming days.”
Evacuation orders have already been issued in Thredbo and the Snowy Mountains area, along with an exodus of people leaving the NSW South Coast.
An incident control centre has been established and resources have been readied to ensure any major outbreaks of fire in the ACT can be contained.
There are currently active fires burning to the west and south of Canberra near Tumut and in the Kosciuszko National Park.
Farmers and livestock managers in south-east NSW have also been urged to prepare properties and move stock where possible, ahead of severe fire danger predicted for Saturday.
The warning is for the Monaro Alpine, Southern and Central Ranges, and Southern Slopes areas.
Meanwhile, motels in Canberra and Queanbeyan, carparks around Lake Burley Griffin and the welcoming homes of strangers are being used by people who have evacuated ahead of worsening fire conditions on Saturday.
A bushfire emergency accommodation in Canberra Facebook group has been set up by concerned Canberrans offering accommodation to those leaving the South Coast or Snowy Mountains.
The Queanbeyan, Bungendore and Braidwood showgrounds are available for people travelling from fire-affected areas requiring transit accommodation. They opened at 11:30 am this morning and will remain open until further notice.
The showgrounds are also animal evacuation sites.
Queanbeyan and Bungendore showgrounds have free basic accommodation options. No bookings are required and people using the sites are asked to be considerate of other users. Those with caravans and animals are asked to phone the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council on 1300 735 025.
In the ACT, an evacuation centre has been established at Dickson College.
On the NSW south coast, Bermagui is all but deserted, while in Moruya, those staying are preparing for the worst as fire fronts continue to burn north and south of the town.
Accommodation options are limited for people arriving from bushfire-affected areas due to an increase in visitors to the ACT this weekend for Summernats, which began today.
There are also vans and trailers in the carparks along Lake Burley Griffin.
A young couple from Merimbula who didn’t wish to be named said they would stay in their van for as long as needed.
On the south coast, the Eurobodalla Shire Council said all visitors must leave Eurobodalla as soon as possible.
“It is in their best interests and the accommodation and other scant resources are needed for our residents. Roads are open to the south and north and fuel is available. Please leave immediately.
“Accommodation providers should ask holidaymakers to leave your premises immediately and return home. Your rooms will be needed to accommodate displaced residents. You will be paid for their use,” said the Council via Facebook.
Police are reminding those leaving the South Coast and Snowy Mountains areas to be patient as road closures and traffic diversions are periodically being put in place due to fires.
The State Emergency Operations Controller, Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys, said conditions are continuously changing and sections of roads closing and opening periodically as the fire emergency continues.
“The NSW Police Force and the NSW Rural Fire Service are working to maintain safe travel passages for people in Southern NSW, but fires are impacting some of these routes,” Deputy Commissioner Worboys said.
Up to the minute information about road closures is available at livetraffic.com.
The community is also reminded that the Public Information and Inquiry Centre is open to assist members of the public in relation to bush fire information for these areas. Call 1800 227 228.
Information specifically relating to the bushfires can be obtained by contacting the Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737 or online via the Rural Fire Service website.