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“This fire will continue to stick it’s nose up for some time yet,” – John Cullen, Bega Valley Rural Fire Service

Ian Campbell and Lisa Herbert 8 September 2019
Photo: Lisa Herbert.

Photo: Lisa Herbert.

Southern New South Wales has been brought into the state’s bushfire emergency with 100 hectares burnt out just south to the township of Cobargo in a dramatic few hours on Saturday (September 7) afternoon.

We’ve watched the stress and concern build during the week across northern and central parts of the state as flames and dry times threatened people, property and the environment. That knowing eye saw a swift response locally when at around 1:30 pm the NSW Rural Fire Service issued a ‘Watch and Act’ alert for the grass/bushfire at Cobargo, north of Bega.

Photo: Lisa Herbert.

Photo: Lisa Herbert.

Driven by hideous westerly winds that pushed the flames towards Cobargo-Bermagui Road and Barrabaroo Road, southeast of the village, residents were advised to enact their bush fire survival plans and consider leaving their homes for the relative safety of Bermagui.

Text message alerts were sent over a wide area, alerting many to the danger, but concerning others in communities like Tathra where the “evacuate to Bermagui” message was less relevant.

On the fire ground, firefighters worked hard to slow the spread of the fire – 19 vehicles, dozens of personnel, and two daredevil water-bombing aircraft won out – remarkable considering the wind that never seemed to abate and the dry conditions.

Photo: Lisa Herbert.

Photo: Lisa Herbert.

RFS Superintendent John Cullen has confirmed that one temporary home/shed has been lost but that “crews and aircraft did an excellent job.”

He says helped in part by cool temperatures but tested by the wind that “was licking in around Robertson Mountain, coming in from all points of the compass, crews had to be very careful, it was very interesting fire behaviour.”

No serious injuries have been reported.

NSW SES Photo: Lisa Herbert

NSW SES Photo: Lisa Herbert

Agencies involved included the NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, NSW Police Force, NSW SES, NSW Ambulance, Bega Valley Shire Council, and Red Cross.

Volunteers at Bermagui Surf Lifesaving Club swung into action, opening their clubhouse as an evacuation centre but thankfully the sting in the situation eased and by 4:20 pm the ‘Emergency Warning’ was being downgraded, by 6:00 pm the fire was back at the ‘Advice’ level.

NSW Fire and Rescue. Photo: Lisa Herbert.

NSW Fire and Rescue. Photo: Lisa Herbert.

“We were able to get the upper hand once the fire came out into open country, having those fuel loads down in those grazed paddocks was a big advantage,” Mr Cullen says.

Eight crews from NSW RFS consolidated control lines overnight, with additional crews, a water-bombing chopper, fixed-wing plane, and heavy machinery on the job today as the wind continues to blowhard.

“This fire will continue to stick it’s nose up for some time yet,” Mr Cullen says.

Residents should continue to monitor conditions and follow their bush fire survival plan.

Ready at Bermagui Surf Club - Cheryl McCarthy, Ian Baily, Bruce McAslan, Andrew Curven, Senior Constable Murray Parnell. Photo: Lisa Herbert

Ready at Bermagui Surf Club – Cheryl McCarthy, Ian Baily, Bruce McAslan, Andrew Curven, Senior Constable Murray Parnell. Photo: Lisa Herbert

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. Electricity and mobile phone infrastructure in the area is being inspected and repairs carried out.

The Fire Danger Rating for the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla and Shoalhaven today (September 8) is ‘High’ across other parts of southern NSW it’s Low to Moderate’.

You can stay up to date with the bush fire situation and get advice on making a bush fire survival Plan at the NSW RFS website or by calling the NSW RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.

In the north of the state two fire remain at ‘Watch and Act’ near Tentifield and Armidale.

The About Regional reporting team will step up as required, like and follow the About Regional Facebook page for breaking news.

Photo: Bega Valley Rural Fire Service Facebook

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