RFS says “we may not be able to hold South-East fires over coming days”

Alex Rea 30 December 2019 34

Pyrocumulous smoke clouds over Monga seen from Reidsdale. Photo: Caitlin Maher.

Prompted by severe weather conditions and the threat that fires will join up, a Section 44 state of emergency has been declared on the Far South Coast.

The state of emergency allows the NSW Rural Fire Service to bring in additional resources, and an incident controller oversees firefighting efforts across major fires in the area.

While the huge Currowan and Charley’s Forest Fires are creeping north towards the Southern Highlands towns of Wingello, Bundanoon and Kangaroo Valley, the southern flank of the fire has been renamed the Clyde Mountain Fire and is burning through the Monga National Park.

The Clyde Mountain Fire is now under the control of the Eurobodalla RFS. Marty Webster from the Eurobodalla RFS says “communities need to be prepared that we may not be able to hold them over coming days”.

On Monday morning the Bureau of Meteorology issued a Severe Weather Warning for damaging winds across the South East from a cold front.

For areas below 1900 metres, winds averaging 60 to 70 km/h with peak gusts in excess of 90 km/h are possible for the Snowy Mountains, and parts of the Australian Capital Territory, South Coast and Southern Highlands from late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

A containment line in the Southern Monga National Park. Photo. Alex Nicol

Overnight there was an increase in fire activity to the east of Tudor Valley Road, off the Kings Highway, and crews are working to extinguish hotspots and conduct property protection.

The fire is putting pressure on containment lines which have been bulldozed through Tudor Valley Road and up to Monga Lane. The containment line is being extended to the Sawyers Ridge Road above the Araluen Valley.

Residents in the Tudor Valley area have been warned that that “the front has a mind of its own and can send out embers anytime irrespective of the wind direction”.

The out of control Clyde Mountain Fire is burning to the south of the Kings Highway in the Clyde Mountain area and is more than 3,500 hectares in size. Marty Webster from the RFS says “this fire will burn north during the day in inaccessible country”.

Resident in the areas of Nelligen, Buckenbowra, Mogendoura and Runnyford, Batemans Bay, Mogo and villages to the east have been told to monitor conditions.

The Araluen Road, Deua River Valley Fire, burning approximately 10 km north-west of Moruya, is more than 100 hectares in size and is being controlled. The fire is burning in the Wandera State Forest and Monga National Park in the Deua River Valley.

Assisted by heavy plant machinery and waterbombing aircraft, crews are working to strengthen containment lines and slow the spread of the fire. In difficult terrain and bad weather conditions, the RFS is steering it around assets in some locations, rather than stopping it. Aircraft are available but extremely thick smoke has limited their use.

The RFS had hoped to hold it on Knowles Creek Fire Trail but the fire has already breached the trail this morning. These fires could impact coastal areas over coming days.

Low-lying areas around Batemans Bay and Moruya are likely to experience significant smoke. Ash was falling in Moruya on Monday morning.

People in the area of the Deua River Valley, Mogendoura and Buckenbowra are advised to monitor conditions and follow your bushfire survival plan, and know what you will do if the fire threatens.

Tourists in the smoke at Moruya. Photo: Alex Rea.

Further west, another bushfire is burning in the Badja Forest Road, Countegany area. The fire increased from 1,000 ha to 2739 ha in size overnight and is out of control.

The fire has crossed into the Wadbilliga National Park and is spreading to the east. The fire has crossed the Tuross River and is burning in terrain that is difficult to access. This fire has the potential to spread rapidly towards areas to the east.

If you are in the area of Yowrie, Wandella, Tinpot and Murrabrine, monitor the changing conditions. Activate your bushfire survival plan. Know what you will do if the fire threatens. If your plan is to leave, leaving early is the safest option.

If you are in the area of Cobargo, Verona and Upper Brogo, monitor the conditions. If your plan is to leave, leaving early is the safest option. Follow your bushfire survival plan and know what you will do if the fire threatens.

Looking south on the containment line adjacent to Princes Highway south of Batemans Bay. Photo: Alex Rea

Enormous containment lines have been bulldozed to protect towns and critical assets.

Temperatures in the high-30s and north-west winds at Braidwood, and slightly cooler temperatures with northeast winds on the coast, mean that the area will be affected by thick smoke until the southeasterly arrives on New Year’s Eve, bringing a new set of risks.

To stay up to date on bushfires in your area call the NSW RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737 or check the NSW RFS website. For road reports and updates visit Live Traffic NSW.

Use the Register.Find.Unite service to register your location, and find and reunite with family, friends and loved ones after an emergency.

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34 Responses to RFS says “we may not be able to hold South-East fires over coming days”
Anna Francesca Clancy Anna Francesca Clancy 9:53 pm 31 Dec 19

I don’t understand why we are not calling for international reinforcements and water planes? Enough is enough. Australia needs help!! Agree army, army reserves and police need to be trained as domestic firefighting as additional function.

Jorge Garcia Jorge Garcia 11:12 am 31 Dec 19

Trish Roberts I think we may need to rethink bushfire fighting altogether. Firefighters should not place themselves at risk to protect property. Just about all of the people who were injured were firefighters... Just pack photos ID and your most precious belongings and get out of the way...

Katy Did Katy Did 9:57 am 31 Dec 19

Really....what do you expect them to do that is not already being done

Elouise Calabria Elouise Calabria 7:14 am 31 Dec 19

Francesco Calabria Beth Sainty-Gale stay safe xx

    Francesco Calabria Francesco Calabria 7:35 am 31 Dec 19

    Elouise Calabria thanks Elle. We won’t be leaving tuross till the wild winds subside. Looks like it will be long trip home when we leave

    Elouise Calabria Elouise Calabria 7:43 am 31 Dec 19

    Francesco Calabria hopefully they get things under control with the cooler change today. Xx

    Beth Sainty-Gale Beth Sainty-Gale 10:33 am 31 Dec 19

    Thanks El, waiting to see what weather does xx

Sarah Welsford Sarah Welsford 9:24 pm 30 Dec 19

What about utilising our ARMY??

I know they are not trained but I’m sure they could be of great help. Safety permitting. 🤷🏽‍♀️

    Lu Mi Lu Mi 9:37 pm 30 Dec 19

    Sarah Elizabeth - Army have been fighting for weeks and continue to.

    Sarah Welsford Sarah Welsford 9:39 pm 30 Dec 19

    Craig Nash have not seen this reported but hoped it was the case.

    Rob Weaver Rob Weaver 2:19 pm 31 Dec 19

    Not everyone needs to be trained in fire-fighting to help. For example, youur your average policeman probably doesn’t know the techniques and procedures. But they still fill an i portant role in keeping roads open or closed, preventing looters from rampaging in deserted areas and generally maintain public control. They are seen as figures if of authority. Same could be said of the military.

Clair Greenwood Clair Greenwood 6:41 pm 30 Dec 19


Linda Gillespie Linda Gillespie 5:38 pm 30 Dec 19

Maureen Allwell are you leaving to somewhere safe?

Amanda Adams Amanda Adams 4:37 pm 30 Dec 19

Very very worrisome

Allyson Wales Allyson Wales 4:25 pm 30 Dec 19

Jeremy Wales Mitchell Wales - hope you guys are ok. Keep an eye on the fires over the next few days

Richard Eves Richard Eves 4:23 pm 30 Dec 19

Caitlin Maher - did you provide the photo?

Roughie Sutton Roughie Sutton 4:23 pm 30 Dec 19

Is the fire near Cullendulla?

    Sher Bee Sher Bee 5:01 pm 30 Dec 19

    Roughie Sutton https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/fires-near-me

    Roughie Sutton Roughie Sutton 12:38 pm 31 Dec 19

    Sher Young fires near me

Chris Law Chris Law 4:18 pm 30 Dec 19

Ash falling in bega/tathra

Lyn Witheridge Lyn Witheridge 4:04 pm 30 Dec 19


Hope you’re all OK Mary.

Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 4:04 pm 30 Dec 19

Amazing job they all do, and continue to do. I’m wondering, though, if it’s feasible for Australia to depend on RFS/volunteers? The task is becoming too long-lasting. Permanent paid fire fighting force?

    Sher Bee Sher Bee 4:20 pm 30 Dec 19

    Trish Roberts they need a reserve force, similar to the defence force reserves with the same conditions. Plus volunteers, without them I’d hate to think what we’d be dealing with. They are all hero’s

    Sue McShane Sue McShane 4:35 pm 30 Dec 19

    Sher Young that’s a great idea.

    Dot Willcoxson Dot Willcoxson 4:43 pm 30 Dec 19

    Trish Roberts training takes time. One of our local RFS brigades has had quite a few people wanting to join but training can’t take place in the current situation.

    Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 4:54 pm 30 Dec 19

    Agreed. Brave of them even to be willing to join. Hope things quieten down eventually so the training can take place.

    Clair Greenwood Clair Greenwood 6:40 pm 30 Dec 19

    This was started a few days ago


    Raymond Buckley Raymond Buckley 12:13 pm 31 Dec 19

    Nothing will change unless we review legislation that has allowed the build up of so much material not reduced by back-burning.

Ian McTaggart Ian McTaggart 4:00 pm 30 Dec 19

Thanks Alex.

Kylie Tinnock Kylie Tinnock 3:57 pm 30 Dec 19

Hope everyone stays safe

Kate Carey Kate Carey 3:44 pm 30 Dec 19

Currently sprinkling burnt eucalypt leaves at Tomakin.

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