State of emergency declared for ACT today ahead of worsening weather risks

Genevieve Jacobs 31 January 2020 4

Members of the ACT Rural Fire Service survey the Orroral Valley fire to the south of Canberra on 30 January. Photo: Gary Hooker, ACTRFS.

The first state of emergency since 2003 has been declared in the ACT as worsening weather conditions begin to impact the ACT, and the Orroral Valley fire elevates to watch and act level.

No properties are currently under threat within the ACT and the fire is being controlled. The emergency declaration anticipates significantly worsening conditions in the next days.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr made the declaration, which allows ESA commissioner Georgeina Whelan, to command ACT government resources as the Emergency Controller.

The ACT has been on a state of alert for some time and the Chief Minister has reiterated that the Orroral Valley fire constitutes the biggest threat to the ACT since 2003.

This morning, fire-spread maps were released showing the potential risks as high temperatures, increasing winds and a potential thunderstorm are forecast.

The combined ESA and NSW RFS fire spread prediction map for the Orroral Valley fire on 31 January. Photo: NSW RFS.

The State of Emergency covers all areas of the ACT and has been declared to protect the community from worsening fire and weather conditions. It can only occur when the Chief Minister is satisfied an emergency has happened, is happening or is likely to happen.

In a State of Emergency, it is imperative that everyone is prepared, even if they are not in an area of immediate danger. It is the strongest declaration available to the ACT government and rarely deployed.

The nominated emergency controller is allocated powers to exert control over the movement of people where necessary and is empowered to take possession of any premises, animal, substance or thing in or near the emergency area. The controller can also direct people to provide information or produce documents or anything else reasonably needed.

The ESA says that 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.

For all updates in relation to the State of Emergency visit the following channels:

  • ESA website at
  • Follow ACT ESA on Facebook and Twitter
  • Fires Near Me mobile app
  • Emergency text alerts
  • Local media outlets
  • Access Canberra services call 13 22 81 or visit:

More to come on this story.

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4 Responses to State of emergency declared for ACT today ahead of worsening weather risks
Elik Kloczko Elik Kloczko 3:43 pm 31 Jan 20

Now this is effective leadership

Julie Patricia Smith Julie Patricia Smith 2:35 pm 31 Jan 20

Burra Michelago and Tharwa are especially tomorrow with high winds and 41 degrees

    Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 3:32 pm 31 Jan 20

    Julie Patricia Smith ...and then the next 72 hours after that? Tuggeranong??

    Julie Patricia Smith Julie Patricia Smith 7:44 pm 31 Jan 20

    Amanda Evans 😞 the winds are from the north west tomorrow so areas to east and south east of the fire eg Burra and michelago

    Fingers crossed for all

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