10 January 2020

Preparation the key as South Coast braces for extreme fire danger

| Michael Weaver
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Erica Dibden of Tilba Real Dairy

Erica Dibden of Tilba Real Dairy has been delivering their products to communities. Photo: Facebook.

NSW South Coast residents are being urged to prepare for extreme fire conditions on Friday (10 January) and Eurobodalla residents living outside the main town centres of Narooma, Moruya, Tuross and Batemans Bay are asked to standby and be ready to relocate if asked.

“This includes residents living near bush on the outer fringes of main towns,” said NSW Rural Fire Service Incident Controller Angus Barnes.

“Residents living in the main towns can stay in place. When the RFS says main towns, [we] mean the town centres of Batemans Bay, Narooma and Moruya, not outlying villages.

“The first and best option is to stay with friends or family in the main town. Otherwise, be ready to attend your nearest evacuation centre in Narooma, Moruya or Batemans Bay,” he said.

However, the RFS has stressed that there are currently no active fires threatening towns in either the Bega Valley or Eurobodalla shires.

Eurobodalla Local Emergency Management Officer Warren Sharpe said NSW Police has also deployed additional personnel to Eurobodalla to assist in the emergency response, and fire-impacted areas or areas that have evacuated are patrolled regularly to protect property.

Mr Sharpe said there are a number of measures in place dealing with damage to infrastructure in the shire.

The boil water notice for residents in Moruya and south to Tilba has been lifted. Sampling has confirmed the drinking water supply was not compromised and it is no longer necessary to boil drinking water.

“All Eurobodalla residents should be conservative with water use until further notice to ensure there is enough water for drinking and firefighting. All reservoirs are now filled,” Mr Sharpe said.

“Do not wet down buildings or grounds or leave sprinklers and hoses running. This is only useful when properties are under threat of fire or ember attack. An ember is hot glowing coal. Cold and blackened leaves are not embers.”

Essential Energy reports that 3,245 customers remain without power in Eurobodalla. The Surf Beach and Sunshine Bay electricity network, near Batemans Bay, has suffered extensive damage. Once crews are able to safely access fire grounds, estimated times to restore the damage and return power to customers will be provided.

“With the prediction of worsening fires on Friday and Saturday, Essential Energy reminds the community that for safety reasons the electricity network may need to be switched off, or it may be damaged, and this means that power will not be available for pumps and that customers should have an alternative plan for water if it is required,” Mr Sharpe said.

Eurobodalla has also been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of people from around Australia donating items for our fire-affected residents. NSW Disaster Welfare Recovery is now asking everyone to reconsider how they can best support those impacted.

“Money is the best way to help people buy the things they really need, empower them to make decisions about their future and support their local businesses by spending locally. Consider donations to Salvation Army 2019 November Bushfire Appeal, Red Cross Relief and Recovery, St Vincent de Paul Society Bushfire Appeal, Wildlife Rescue,” Mr Sharpe said.

The good news is Eurobodalla’s three swimming centres in Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma re-opened at 1:00 pm today (9 January), much sooner than anticipated. Mr Sharpe said fire ash continues to be blown into Moruya and Batemans Bay centres and although this ash may be unsightly, the water remains suitable for swimming.

Mr Sharpe also reaffirmed that visitors should delay their travel plans to Eurobodalla for now.

“There is still active fire in most of Eurobodalla and south to the Victorian border. Many local residents have lost their homes or can’t return to them and these people require accommodation, resources and support. Until this Friday’s high fire danger has passed and NSW RFS reassess the forecast, visitors should stay away from the Eurobodalla.”

Further information is available from the Eurobodalla Shire Council Facebook page.

Bega Valley waste facility

Bega Valley Shire Council is accepting fire-affected waste, free of charge, at its waste facilities. Photo: BVSC

In the Bega Valley, Mayor Kristy McBain and Deputy Incident Controller at the RFS John Cullen updated the community at 1:00 pm today (9 January).

Mr Cullen said the situation forecast for Friday will be very similar to conditions last Saturday, with low humidity, high temperatures and westerly or north-westerly winds. He said a predicted southerly change should arrive at Narooma at about 7:00 pm and at Moruya 9:00 pm, with blustery 40-50 km/h winds abating by midnight.

“There are active fires still burning in many areas,” Mr Cullen said.

“If people are not comfortable where they are at the moment, they should move to a safer place. If they are defending their properties, they need to ensure that they’ve the capability, the resources and the mental strength to do that if fire does impact on their property.

“No areas are out of danger yet. We’ve had a little bit of rain and the weather has been a bit kinder, but everybody needs to be on alert.”

Mr Cullen said he fought a fire at his place at Bemboka last weekend.

“The spotting of fires can surround you very easily and trap you on your property, so have a team talk with others around you about what your actions will be if the situation arises.”

Further information is available on the Bega Valley Shire Council Facebook page, including information on the free disposal of fire-affected waste at the Wallagoot, Merimbula, Candelo, Bermagui and Eden tips.

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