10 December 2019

Smokey skies no delight as haze returns

| Michael Weaver
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Smoke from the North Black Range Palerang fire

Smoke from the North Black Range Palerang fire flows west of Braidwood last week. Photo: Jarrah Knowles.

Today’s brief reprieve from the smoke haze that has blanketed the area is set to be short-lived, with more smoke predicted to impact the ACT at around 7:00 pm tonight (10 December).

The ACT Emergency Services Agency is warning Canberra residents that fires burning in NSW are creating the smoke.

Although there have been two small grass and bush fires at Majura and Curtin earlier in the afternoon, these were quickly extinguished. The ESA website says there are no major fires burning in the ACT.

The ESA is also reminding Canberrans only to contact the triple-zero emergency number if you see an unattended fire.

“On two occasions when heavy smoke has impacted the ACT, our triple-zero centre received around 200 calls. Please only call 000 to report an unattended fire. Triple-zero is for life-threatening emergencies only,” an ESA spokesperson said.

The forecast is for today’s north-westerly winds to again swing around to the east, bringing smoke back over the ACT.

Earlier today, the North Black Range Palerang fire was upgraded to watch and act level, only to be downgraded back to advice level just before 6:00 pm. Fire activity increased around Foxs Elbow and Watsons Road on the northern edge of the fire ground near the Kings Highway.

Containment lines have since halted the spread of the fire.

“Smoke is expected to continue to impact communities west of the fire for a number of days. People with breathing difficulties should take appropriate precautions,” the NSW Rural Fire Service website says.

The update on the NSW Rural Fire Service website at 5:51 pm said the fire remains active on the north side of the fire around Foxs Elbow, Jones Road, Watsons Road and Mulloon Creek near Butmaroo Road. Crews are conducting backburning operations to establish containment lines.

Firefighters are working on the western side of the fire around Butmaroo, Forbes Creek and Rossi; the eastern side of the fire around Bombay, Mt Elrington, Farringdon; and the southern side of the fire around Harolds Cross, Vernally Road and Gumms Road.

Conditions are expected to deteriorate this afternoon with fire expected to spread to the east and north under north-westerly winds.

The Kings Highway remains closed east of Braidwood between Forest River Road, Monga to Nelligen due to back burning operations as part of the Currowan (Shoalhaven) fire. This expected to remain in place until later in the week.

For information about bushfires, please call Access Canberra on 13 22 81, or visit the ESA website.

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