The darkness of night has hidden the thick column of smoke coming from the Yankees Gap Road Fire at Bemboka, but there will be no rest of those fighting the flames and those living around them.
Water bombing helicopters moved in late in the day as winds dropped, at their peak, gusts reached 78km/hr, winds are expected to remain gusty overnight and not completely calm down until late tomorrow.
A short time ago (6:20pm) Marty Webster from Bega Valley Rural Fire Service said the fire was still burning hard and has so far covered 2000 hectares.
“Some people have chosen to relocate and are with friends and family tonight,” Mr Webster says.
“At this stage, we don’t see a need to open an evacuation centre.”
The Snowy Mountains Highway has been closed between West Kameruka Road and the Princes Highway in an effort to make firefighter movements safer.
Those efforts will continue for some time yet, Mr Webster says this will be “a protracted fire and we will have to draw on a number of strategies to bring about containment.”
About 80 fires are burning around NSW however, its the situation in the Bega Valley that is escalating, a short time ago the NSW RFS issued and Emergency Warning…
EMERGENCY WARNING – Yankees Gap Rd, Bemboka 6:14pm
A bush fire is burning near Yankees Gap Rd, Bemboka. The fire is currently 300 hectares in size and is out of control.
A large fire is burning in the South East Forest National Park to the north-west of Bega.
The fire is burning in an easterly direction towards Desert Creek Rd, Numbugga, Scotland Yard Rd, Garfield and the Snowy Mountains Highway, Walls Flat.
Conditions have deteriorated and the fire continues to burn through difficult terrain making the situation dangerous for firefighters and residents.
Firefighters are currently conducting property protection where it is safe to do so.
Firefighters have been liaising with people in the area throughout the day
Emergency alert messages have been sent to people in the area.
Fanned by strong winds and is producing a large amount of smoke and embers.
Under these conditions, fires can be difficult to control. Embers may be blown well ahead of the fire, creating spot fires that may threaten properties.
If you are in the area to the north of the Snowy Mountains Highway and west of the Princes Highway you should take shelter as the fire approaches. It is too late to leave.
Take shelter in a solid structure when the fire front arrives. Protect yourself from the heat of the fire.
If your life is at risk, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.
Continue to stay up to date with the bush fire situation by checking the NSW RFS website or calling the RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.
If you live in the area but are away from home, it may not be safe to return to your property.
Crews on the Snowy Monaro have also been active this afternoon; ten kilometers east of Bombala on Stockyard Creek Road, and on Coolangubra Forest Way, Paddys Flat. Both fires are now listed as being ‘under control’.
Monaro RFS also advise that this afternoon’s wind kicked up a lot of dust from bare paddocks which some have confused as smoke.
A number of other fires in the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla and Snowy Monaro that started earlier in the day are now listed as ‘under control’.
Today’s smoke has been particularly upsetting given the fires of just five months ago that destroyed 65 homes in and around Tathra.
Commenting on the About Regional Facebook page, Vimy Ridge resident, Jo Dodds wrote, “This is a devastating start to spring. For those who’ve been affected by the March 18 fires, this may be a very traumatic reminder so please look after yourself, seek help if you are experiencing distressing feelings, stay safe.”
Those with a long history of fire in the Bega Valley like Numbugga farmer Noel Watson and Tathra teacher, Jim Kelly point to the 1952 bushfires that started in a similar location and burnt to the coast.
“That was February though, but a very similar pattern,” Mr Watson says.
“I’ve seen this before, it’s a bit too close to 1952,” Mr Kelly says.
A dump of rain seems the only thing that will stop people and property being at further risk, sadly the Weather Bureau is forecasting dry days ahead.
The bushfire emergency in the Shoalhaven has closed the Princes Highway at North Nowra, however, diversions are in place, for the latest on road closures go to – Live Traffic NSW
For the latest bushfire news and advice – go to Fires Near Me
Listen to ABC Local radio coverage – HERE
More from About Regional tomorrow morning (August 16).