Safety first: Kings Highway closed for a month or more as fires continue to burn

Alex Rea 27 December 2019 17

Government Bend on the Kings Highway after the Currowan Fire. Photo: Supplied.

Fire damage to the Kings Highway is likely to keep the main artery from Canberra to the south coast closed for a month or more.

NSW Minister for Transport and Roads and Member for Bega Andrew Constance, Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes and Acting General Manager Warren Sharpe made the announcement this morning in Moruya citing safety concerns.

Acknowledging that businesses along the coast are hurting from the lack of tourists in the peak holiday season, Mayor Innes said: “As soon as we can give the green light and say ‘come on down’ again to our visitors, we will.”

Mr Constance said the Currowan fire has jumped the Kings Highway several times and is burning on two fronts towards the top of the mountain.

According to Mr Sharpe, “the fire is making its way down along the Kings Highway, where it has burnt very hot through the top of the Clyde. The Monga fire is burning south and will join up with the Kings Highway fire”.

“There is no stopping this thing. There are a lot of trees down. We just can’t put road workers in there.”

In a small piece of good news, the Carwoola Fire Brigade has confirmed that Pooh Bear’s Corner on the Kings Highway is safe. Reporting via social media, Carwoola RFS says that while the fire has burned all around, “the beloved fluffy toys at Pooh Corner are all ok. Thanks to Carwoola Deputy Captain Lewis Conn and his crew for checking during one of their night shifts”.

Pooh's Corner

Carwoola RFS have confirmed that Pooh Bear’s Cave is safe on the Kings Highway. Photo: Facebook.

Fire activity increased across the fireground yesterday in the Monga National Park, east of Tudor Valley Road.

The RFS said that “a large edge continues to burn to the north of Monga Lane moving south through the Monga National Park. The fire continues to move slowly south through heavy bush which is difficult to access in many places”.

“Currently two aircraft are working across the fire ground today to assist with fire suppression, with a third assigned to detect hotspots and feed intelligence back to the Incident Management Team as visibility allows.

“Australian Defence Force personnel are tasked to carry out strategic planning in inaccessible terrain.”

Currowan fire

The Currowan fire is burning through the Clyde Mountain. Photo: Andrew Constance.

With 40 per cent of the Eurobodalla Shire ravaged by the Currowan bushfire, and the Charleys Forest fire still active from the top of the Clyde and making its way north through the Morton National Park, a new threat comes from the Araluen Road fire.

This fire in the Deua River Valley ignited yesterday and is burning in inaccessible terrain. Two water bombing air tractors, a helicopter and multiple ground crews are fighting the fire. RFS and NSW Police are investigating the cause of the fire.

“It’s really important the RFS get on top of the Araluen fire,” Mr Constance said. “They did an amazing job last night in the Araluen Valley.

“We absolutely give our appreciation to those out there keeping our communities safe. Forestry, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Local Land Services, Council, Health and NSW Police have been working around the clock with the RFS to keep the community safe.

“We can ill afford any other fire events in this shire. We have a major fire to contend with, and an outbreak on Araluen Road. We cannot afford our resources being stretched any further. We need to get over a very dangerous period over the next four or five days,” Mr Constance said.

Burnt trees dangling over the Kings Highway on Clyde Mountain. Photo: Supplied

The Bureau of Meteorology says that while temperatures should be lower than last week’s near 50-degree maximums, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra and western Sydney are all forecast to see at least one day in the high-30s or low-40s before the end of 2019.

Mayor Innes said: “Everyone from Batemans Bay to Moruya needs to have their fire plans ready to enact. Look after one another.

“The best thing you can do for the RFS right now is to make sure your house is safe and that your fire plan is ready to enact. We will get through this.”

Buckled roadway along the Kings Highway at Clyde Mountain. Photo: Supplied

While the holiday period has been very quiet at the coast, traffic has increased down the Brown Mountain route via Cooma after Christmas. Businesses from Braidwood to Bega are reeling from the lack of tourist trade.

Mayor Innes urged local and visitors to be aware and have a fire plan in place.

“No-one can be as prepared as someone who lives locally, so tourists need to be aware as everybody else down here.”

The Nerriga/Braidwood Road through to Nowra is also still closed and there is still major work required in the Sassafras area.

To stay up to date on bush fires 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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17 Responses to Safety first: Kings Highway closed for a month or more as fires continue to burn
Vicki Page Vicki Page 4:16 pm 30 Dec 19

wow.....!!!.Thanks for posting Chels....xx

Tracey Penc Tracey Penc 3:18 pm 28 Dec 19

Still very minimal traffic on brown mountain today.

We just spent 5 days in the Bay,and only experienced 1 really smoky day which cleared after lunch.

I urge people to please take the extra drive and visit . Businesses are truly suffering 😪 mogo was also very quiet.

Rob Long Rob Long 9:44 am 28 Dec 19

But ask the liberals, still no climate change

Lesley Fisk Lesley Fisk 11:48 pm 27 Dec 19

Mt Darragh road from Bombala to Pambula is another easy albeit longer way to the coast to the south apart from Brown Mountain

    David Rumph David Rumph 6:51 am 28 Dec 19

    Lesley Fisk you get to see a bit of different country! Good suggestion!

    Julie Pangalos Julie Pangalos 9:03 pm 29 Dec 19

    It's a lovely scenic drive too! :)

Ricky Toms Ricky Toms 9:50 pm 27 Dec 19

I wonder how many people know how / why the cave on the corner was created???

You might be surprised if it’s history

    Tony Hurditch Tony Hurditch 9:52 pm 27 Dec 19

    Ricky Toms it was an explosives depot, wasn't it?

    Ricky Toms Ricky Toms 9:53 pm 27 Dec 19

    Tony Hurditch yep during WW2 ... if the japs invaded and came up the Clyde we would have blown the side of the mountain down upon them

    Tony Hurditch Tony Hurditch 9:55 pm 27 Dec 19

    Ricky Toms that's what I thought.

    Ricky Toms Ricky Toms 9:55 pm 27 Dec 19

    Tony Hurditch and now it’s all cute and fluffy

    Sher Bee Sher Bee 10:11 pm 27 Dec 19

    Ricky Toms ssssh Im so not telling my daughter, she’s 26.....😬

    Warren Jack Warren Jack 11:22 pm 27 Dec 19

    Michelle Cope Michelle Cope 11:38 am 28 Dec 19

    I believe Pooh bear corner began many years ago; a family used to travel from Crookwell to the coast and Mother put a toy there to break the trip up for the kids.. and it just continued from then....

Donna Sherriff Donna Sherriff 9:44 pm 27 Dec 19

They say theres been continual fallen broken burnt trees..some rock slides and melted tar in some spots.

Nonie Daniel Nonie Daniel 8:46 pm 27 Dec 19

It is so sad to see this, the little towns will find it so hard, especially this time of year.😥

Kartika Medcraft-Smith Kartika Medcraft-Smith 8:04 pm 27 Dec 19

I feel for the poor towns that rely on the traffic - mogo will be hit hard 😞

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