Update: Beard fire downgraded to advice, 20 properties saved by firefighters

Dominic Giannini 28 January 2020
Fire in close proximity to Brindabella Business Park. Photo: Supplied.

Fire in close proximity to Brindabella Business Park. Photo: Supplied.

UPDATE 9:00 pm: The Beard fire has been downgraded to an advice level and is currently 379 hectares in size.

People from Beard, Oaks Estate and Crestwood can now return to the area. No properties are under threat the ESA has said.

“Community members are asked to take care when travelling along Pialligo Avenue as emergency service vehicles and personnel are working in the area,” an ESA spokesperson said.

“Oaks Estate Road is closed between Pialligo Avenue and Railway Street whilst crews are on scene.”

The ESA indicated that the Pialligo fire was caused by a powerline, which ignited dry grass but said that this was their initial assessment only.

During the course of today’s fire, five buildings were lost/damaged the ESA said, but none were residential properties. The buildings were sheds or commercial structures, while firefighters managed to save 20 structures within the burnt area. Damage assessment crews will begin surveying the damage from 7 am tomorrow morning to get a better understanding of the impact the fire had.

The ACT remains in a State of Alert and residents are being urged to remain cautious but not concerned, ESA Commissioner Georgeina Whelan said.

UPDATE 5:30 pm: The Beard fire remains at a watch and act level and is burning within containment lines. There are currently 45 crews on the scene being supported by three helicopters.

ESA Commissioner Georgeina Whelan has said a severe weather warning has been issued for tonight and told residents to brace for thunder and lightning.

Some Qantas flights are still departing Canberra Airport, however all other services have been cancelled.

There is still a recycling fire at Beard that is concerning emergency services, with smoke from burning car bodies and car parts reducing visibility and air quality in the area.

Chief Police Officer, Ray Johnson, says an excavator has been brought in to break up the rubbish piles, one of which is 30-metres in diameter and four-metres high, while a second is 15-metres in diameter and three-metres high.

The Pialligo fire. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

“Foam is being sprayed on the fire to lessen the smoke,” CPO Johnston told the media.

Parts of Fyshwick are experiencing intermittent power outages as are traffic lights around Canberra Airport and fire-affected areas.

Residents are being told to turn off any unnecessary electrical appliances as hot weather and current conditions can put a strain on the power grid, especially during peak periods.

In terms of the fires to the south and south-west of the ACT, the Mary’s Hill fire was quiet today, with only one reported hotspot on the northwest flank.

The Adaminaby Complex fire escalated to an emergency level before being downgraded back down to watch and act, with two active edges. The ACT is not under threat from this fire Commissioner Whelan said.

The Brindabella and Tidbinbilla region, as well as Mary’s Hill, Cotter Valley, north of the Cotter Dam and west to Dunns Road are all clear at the moment, Commissioner Whelan said.

The Pialligo fire. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

To keep up to date please check the ESA website (esa.act.gov.au) and monitor their Twitter (@ACT_ESA) and Facebook accounts (@ACTEmergencyServicesAgency).

You can also download and monitor the NSW RFS Fires Near Me mobile app.

UPDATE 5:00 pm: The Beard fire has been downgraded to watch and act.

People in Beard, Harman, Oaks Estate and Crestwood are being advised to stay indoors due to hazardous smoke burning in the area.

“If you are not in the area, do not return if it is not necessary,” an ESA spokesperson said.

“People in Pialligo and Brindabella Business Park should stay up to date and continue to monitor conditions.”

The fire is currently 424 hectares in size, and firefighters continue to remain on scene, supported by water-bombing and aerial surveillance helicopters.

“Under current conditions, the fire may be difficult to control,” the spokesperson said.

UPDATE 4:30 pm: The Beard fire is still burning out of control, but it is burning within containment lines. The biggest threat at the moment is spot fires, rather than the main fire taking another run, ESA Commissioner Georgeina Whelan said.

“We are seeing the wind ease, but there is still a risk until around 9 pm tonight,” Commissioner Whelan said.

People in Brindabella Business Park are being advised that they can leave now via Pialligo Avenue, but can only turn right towards the city.

Those in Pialligo are being advised that they can leave now via Pialligo Avenue, but can only turn left towards the city.

ACT Police are saying people can still travel between Canberra and Queanbeyan via Sutton Road and the Federal Highway, or via Lanyon Drive and Tharwa Road. Do not drive around a roadblock.

A number of outbuildings have been damaged the ESA has said, however rapid impact assessment teams will not be able to assess the full extent of the damage immediately.

CEO of Pialligo Estate, Scott Taylor, says that the fire came within 100 metres of the Estate, and staff were evacuated at midday.

Mr Taylor said 12 RFS trucks and around 25 to 30 firefighters arrived to put out there fires in the area while he helped hose down potential fuel with the Estate’s mobile water fighters, consisting of 1000-litre cube water tanks and pumps.

“We were there swearing at the fire, while the (firefighters) came in with their AK-47s,” Mr Taylor told Region Media.

“I am not sure our little slingshots did much, but we were just taking directions from the firies and let the professionals take over.”

Mr Taylor believes that the fire in Pialligo was started after winds blew over a power line which sparked a small grassfire that spread quickly because of the strong winds, resulting in a number of trees catching fire.

More footage has just been sent to us as two choppers ferry water from Lake Burley Griffin to the Beard Fire.

Posted by Breaking247 on Wednesday, 22 January 2020

UPDATE 3:50 pm: The Beard fire is currently out of control and is 424 hectares in size, but it is burning within containment lines.

“Firefighters are on scene and helicopters are water-bombing and providing aerial surveillance,” an ESA spokesperson said.

“There are unconfirmed reports of building damage. Assessments will commence when it is safe to do so.”

Fire nudging the road just outside Brindabella Business Park.

Posted by Breaking247 on Wednesday, 22 January 2020

People in Beard, Harman, Oaks Estate and Crestwood are still being told to seek shelter as it is now too late to leave.

“The fire is travelling in a southeasterly direction towards Beard, Harman, Oaks Estate and Crestwood (Queanbeyan),” the spokesperson said.

Aerial photo of the Beard fire damage. Photo: ESA Twitter.

UPDATE 3:30 pm: Region Media has been told by Canberra Airport that it was never technically closed, as people continue to arrive for their flights. No flights are landing at the moment but some flights are still departing.

Passengers are being told to check with their airlines for current updates on their flight. Virgin and Tiger Air are reviewing their flights for the rest of the day.

Some businesses in Brindabella Business Park have evacuated as photos and reports of fires breaking out start to surface across social media.

The ESA has also issued a dangerous smoke warning after the recycling centre in Underwood Street, Beard was impacted.

“(It) is producing dangerous levels of smoke, which will reduce visibility and air quality,” an ESA spokesperson said.

UPDATE 2:50 pm: The ACT is now in a State of Alert while ESA Commissioner Georgeina Whelan has said that a firefighter has sustained minor injuries at the Beard fire, but will continue to fight this afternoon.

Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman said that the Territory-wide State of Alert will be in place for today, tomorrow and over the weekend, while 45 crews work to contain the spread of the Beard fire.

There are also reports that a large NSW RFS tanker has crashed in the Snowy Monaro area, as multiple helicopter crews are scanning the area.

For more information about the South Coast fires that have reached emergency warning levels, please visit aboutregional.com.au

Emergency level fires near the Canberra Airport have merged to create what's being called the Beard fire as a fast moving and dangerous situation develops here in the ACT . We are seeing very dramatic scenes near Brindabella Business Park and emergency warnings are in place for Beard, Harman, Oaks Estate, Crestwood, Pialligo and Brindabella Business Park. Live updates: http://ow.ly/ii6n50y2EsA

Posted by The RiotACT on Wednesday, 22 January 2020

This was just sent to us from Brindabella Park.

Posted by Breaking247 on Wednesday, 22 January 2020

UPDATE 2:20 pm: The Kallaroo fire and the Pialligo Redwood Forest fire have merged, and the fire is now called the Beard fire. It remains at an emergency level.

People in Oaks Estate, Beard, Harman, and Crestwood are being told to seek shelter immediately.

“The fire is travelling in a southeasterly direction towards Beard, Harman, Oaks Estate and Crestwood (Queanbeyan),” an ESA spokesperson said.

“The fire is out of control. Firefighters are on scene. However, under current conditions, the fire is difficult to control.

“People in the area may be affected by thick smoke and embers, which will reduce visibility and air quality.”

UPDATE 2:00 pm: ACT Police have announced a number of road closures as the Pialligo fire continues to burn at an emergency level.

Pialligo Road is closed at Scherger Drive, Yass Road, Fairbairn Avenue, Morshead Drive, and Molonglo Drive. Beltana Road and Kallaroo Road are also closed.

In Beard, Copper Crescent, Nickel Street, and Norse Road are all closed.

Canberra Avenue from Hindmarsh Drive to Kendall Avenue are all closed, including the intersections at Tom Price Street, Gilmore Road, Norse Road, and Railway Street.

Uriarra Road, Kendall Avenue, and Florence Street are also closed.

The fire is travelling in a southeasterly direction towards Beard, Oaks Estate and Crestwood (Queanbeyan), the ESA said.

UPDATE 1:15 pm: Roadblocks are now in place on Canberra Avenue at the intersections of Norse Road, Tom Price Street, Gilmour Road, and Kendall Avenue.

Fire in close proximity to Brindabella Business Park. Photo: Region Media.

Fire in close proximity to Brindabella Business Park. Photo: Danni Pring via Facebook.

Road closures are also in place at the Canberra Avenue and Hindmarsh Drive intersection.

Police are telling people to avoid the area.

While Canberra Airport has been closed, the terminal has not been evacuated.

Travellers are being advised to contact their airline for updates as arriving and departing flights have been affected.

The Kallaroo Road fire is at watch and act. The ESA is advising that people in Pialligo, Brindabella Business Park and surrounding areas could be affected by the bushfire.

“People located in Brindabella Business Park are safe where they are. Please stay in this location,” an ESA spokesperson said.

There is an emergency warning in place for Beard, Oaks Estate and West Queanbeyan, including Crestwood.

“People in these suburbs are in danger and need to seek immediate shelter as the fire approaches,” an ESA spokesperson said.

“Driving now is extremely dangerous and potentially deadly.

“The fire is travelling in a southeasterly direction towards Beard, Oaks Estate and Crestwood.

“The fire is out of control. Firefighters are on scene. However, under current conditions, the fire is difficult to control.”

Pialligo and Kallaroo Rd Fires Burnt Area. Photo: ESA pdf via Website.

UPDATE 12:45 pm: Canberra Airport is now closed and the fire has crossed the Molonglo River near Beard.

It is now too late to leave, according to the ESA.

“A bushfire is approaching Beard, Oaks Estate and West Queanbeyan including Crestwood. The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path,” an ESA spokesperson said.

“People in these suburbs are in danger and need to seek immediate shelter as the fire approaches. Driving now is extremely dangerous and potentially deadly.

“If you are not in the area, do not return.”

The ESA says that people at Brindabella Business Park and in Pialligo could be affected by the fire on Kallaroo Rd., as conditions are changing and could worsen. However, the advice for people located in Brindabella Business Park is that they are currently safe to stay in place.

Road closures are in place on Pialligo Avenue and Beltana Rd., Pialligo and we also have reports that power lines are down in Fyshwick.

A relief centre has been opened at Dickson College for people from fire-affected areas and will welcome both children and pets. Access is disability friendly.

There has been no official word on whether the ACT will elevate to a state of alert, but Region Media will continue to update you on conditions throughout the afternoon.

The Bureau of Meteorology says a trough is moving over southern NSW and the ACT. “That’s producing some really gusty conditions, so we have a severe weather warning for damaging winds”, a spokesman said.

“We are already seeing winds gusts in the ACT that meet our warning criteria. Mt Ginnini had 48-knot gusts, equivalent to just under 90 km/h, and at the Canberra Airport, we’ve seen gusts up to 83 km/h. It’s very warm – temperatures are around 33. 6 degrees.

“Our warning is for extreme fire danger, and we are currently seeing a fairly serious situation, which will persist through most of the afternoon”.

Fires in Canberra are spiking to emergency level on both sides of the Canberra airport. A new fire on Beltana Rd is blazing as gusty strong winds hit the ACT, exacerbating the existing fire in the Pialligo redwood forest. Water bombing is now taking place, but the Bureau of Meteorology says there is a difficult afternoon ahead of us. http://ow.ly/SLFY50y2CuQ

Posted by The RiotACT on Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Video update from Fyshwick as the fire has jumped the Molonglo River. The Canberra Airport is now closed.

Posted by Breaking247 on Wednesday, 22 January 2020

UPDATE 12:00 pm: The Pialligo fire has been upgraded to emergency. The fire is on both sides of the airport and planes are being diverted.

It is now too late to leave, according to the ESA.

“A bushfire is approaching Beard, Oaks Estate and West Queanbeyan including Crestwood. The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path,” an ESA spokesperson said.

“People in these suburbs are in danger and need to seek immediate shelter as the fire approaches. Driving now is extremely dangerous and potentially deadly.”

People in streets north of Uriarra Road are being told to leave now towards David Campese Oval only if it is safe to do so.

Road closures are in place near the Canberra Airport including Beltana Road and Pialligo Avenue. Motorists are advised to avoid the area.

Fire from Beard

View from Alumina St, Beard at around 11:15 this morning (23 January). Photo: Oscar Perez.

UPDATE 11:30 am: There are now two watch and act fires in Canberra as strong winds batter the ACT, meaning it could be impossible to contain the blazes.

The Kallaroo Road fire in Pialligo is at a watch and act for residents in Pialligo, Brindabella Business Park and the surrounding areas, while Beard, Oaks Estate and West Queanbeyan (including Crestwood) are also at a watch and act level due to the Pialligo Redwood Forest fire.

The ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) says conditions are changing and could get worse.

“The fire is travelling in a South Easterly direction towards Pialligo Avenue and is out of control.”

“No properties are under threat at this time,” an ESA spokesperson said.

“You need to be ready to follow your Bushfire Survival Plan. If you do not have a plan you should start preparing now because the situation could get worse.”

Road closures are in place near the Canberra Airport including Beltana Road and Pialligo Avenue. Motorists are advised to avoid the area.

Firefighting crews are also on scene at a tree fire in Phillip, at the intersection of Bowes Street and Launceston Street.

The community is being advised to avoid the area while crews work to extinguish the blaze.

Crews are also on scene at Clive Steele Avenue in Monash where some trees are alight.


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