27 January 2020

New fire breaks out south west of Canberra, near Tharwa

| Michael Weaver
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Orroral Valley fire

Updated, 6:00 pm, 27 January — A Watch and Act level grass and bushfire is burning out of control in remote areas of the Orroral Valley in the Namadgi National Park.

This fire is 18km from Tharwa Village and there are reports that ash and embers are falling on properties near the village.

The fire is called the Orroral Valley fire and, as of 5:00 pm, had grown quickly to about 635 hectares in size. Fire crews are currently on the scene and a large smoke plume can be seen where the fire is burning to the west of Canberra.

The Orroral Valley fire as seen on the ACT ESA website. Image: ESA

ACT Emergency Service Agency (ESA) Commissioner Georgeina Whelan said during a briefing this afternoon that landholders and residents in the Tharwa area should immediately activate their bushfire survival plan.

Commissioner Whelan also said the fire is spotting up to five kilometres to the east of the fire front.

“The fire is travelling in a south-east direction. The fire is out of control and firefighters are responding to the fire,” the commissioner said.

“We currently have 18 units fighting the fire along with six water-bombing helicopters and one large air tanker doing aerial surveillance.”

Doorknocking by Australian Defence Force and State Emergency Service personnel has also commenced for residents in Top Naas Road, Apollo Road and Boboyan Road. Commissioner Whelan said that there are no planned evacuations at this stage, while the fire remains at Watch and Act advice level.

“People in the remote areas of Orroral Valley and surrounding areas could be affected by a bushfire in Boboyan Road, Apollo Road, Top Naas Road. Conditions are changing and could get worse.”

People in the area may be affected by smoke, which could reduce visibility and air quality.

The ACT Emergency Services Agency says the fire started at Link Road and Smokers Trail in the Namadgi National Park.

A bushwalker in the area has since been alerted and is safe.

ACT Rural Fire Service and ACT Parks and Conservation Service firefighters are on scene working to contain the fire.

Commissioner Whelan said a forward command post has been established at the Tharwa Visitors’ Centre. Emergency services personnel are also patrolling in Tharwa Village.

“To the residents of the ACT, please stay up to date. We are currently focused on property protection and the protection of life. No properties are under threat at this time,” the commissioner said.

People in the area may be affected by smoke, which could reduce visibility and air quality. The smoke is predicted to hit the urban area of Canberra at approximately 8:00 pm this evening.

“This is a watch and act level bushfire warning. You need to keep up to date and decide what actions you will take because bushfire conditions are changing,” the ESA says.

Boboyan Road is closed from Namadgi Visitor Centre and south from Shannons Flat. Access to the area is restricted to residents only.

“If you do not need to be in this area, for your safety, do not enter or return,” the ESA says.

An evacuation centre for horses and animals has been set up at Exhibition Park in Canberra. Residents who decide to evacuate can go to Erindale College.

To keep up to date, check the ESA website, or follow the ESA Twitter account and ESA Facebook page. People can also download and monitor the NSW RFS Fires Near Me mobile app, stay tuned to your local radio station or contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81.

An update will be provided if the situation changes.

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From 20 hectares to >1000 in 2 hours.

Driving through the NP yesterday just as the fire trucks started turning up, and seeing how dry everything is, this is going to be hard to pull up.

Maruka Hagarta6:31 pm 27 Jan 20

Can anyone else see a baby koala escaping the fire on mums back in this photograph?

Capital Retro8:43 pm 27 Jan 20

What are you smoking?

liberalsocialist8:48 pm 27 Jan 20

I can now!

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