2 December 2019

"We can't stop this fire" - Ken Hall, Rural Fire Service

| Elise Searson
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Long Beach Rural Fire Brigade

Long Beach Rural Fire Brigade. Photos: Elise Searson.

There were mixed feelings at the Long Beach Rural Fire Brigade this morning (2 December) as residents of northern Eurobodalla villages were told to prepare for the approaching Currowan Fire.

Rural Fire Service Deputy Incident Controller Ken Hall received a warm welcome from the crowd who were eager to hear the latest update.

“We can’t stop this fire. It is so dry out in the bush, it will keep jumping over our control lines,” Mr Hall said.

The Deputy incident Controller of the fire Ken Hall

The Deputy incident Controller of the fire Ken Hall.

“Our problem is, if we have a fire that kicks off out of the big one, it might come a bit further south and that will put more pressure on North Durras. I’m 70-80 per cent sure South Durras is safe at this point under these conditions.

“At Long Beach, this fire is a couple of days away from us, the winds are westerly which will take the fire north, that gives us some help, leaving us not so vulnerable. It also gives us some days to prepare.”

Christine Beadman and Bec Lester

Surfside residents Christine Beadman and Bec Lester.

Bec Lester attended on behalf of her student’s families, to pass on the advice, she’s the Early Childhood Director at Batemans Bay Pre School.

“They can’t stop it, it’s very scary, it won’t stop until we get rain,” Bec said.

Like many other residents, Bec and her mother Christine have a plan. This isn’t their first fire. They lived through the 2002 Canberra Fires which they say are exactly like the Currowan Fire – described as not too threatening in the few days leading up, until, “all of a sudden, in the middle of the day the sky turned black. We don’t want to be in Surfside when that happens”.

“When it gets to Long Beach we’re leaving with our pets, personal stuff and esky that is ready to go.”

Christie and Mark Summers

Long Beach residents, Christie and Mark Summers.

Mark Summers was quick to put his hand up to help the firefighters, having fought in the Victorian fires the feeling of panic is all too familiar.

“My wife owns Christie Coffee and we want to supply the fire brigade with as much coffee, Slurpees and food as they need,” he said. “We come from regional NSW where everyone looks after each other, this is just what you do.”

Christie’s plan is, as soon as the fire is 5 km away, that she and Mark will stay while she sends her two children and pets into town. “Even though we rent, our home is everything to us; we have to stay and fight to keep it.”

Road closure heading south on Princes Highway at Longbeach turn off

Road closure heading south on Princes Highway at Longbeach turn off.

Like most coastal villages, Long Beach and Maloneys Beach are ‘one road out’ villages, so if everyone decides to leave in a panic at the last minute it could turn catastrophic.

“The last place you want to be is in a car trying to drive out of fire,” Deputy Incident Controller Ken Hall said.

“If you leave it too late and you’re stuck at your house, make sure your house is right. If you don’t feel safe, leave now.”

Check the NSW Rural Fire Service website for updates and advice on preparing for fire.

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The Yankees Creek fire in August,September,October last year ran for 12 weeks. 20,000 hectares about 10 kms north of Bemboka.Mostly National Park and state forest.Relatively few residents and just a few farms on the periphery of the fireground. Aircraft dropping water and fire retardent.Ground crews of firefighters. Rain, I believe contributed to putting that fire out.
This Currowan fire is similar with notable differences.
50,000 hectares(after 5 days).
Relatively a lot more residents especially in coastal villages, but also state forest and national park.
No rain forcast until February (8 weeks away).
The hottest and driest part of the year (Dec,Jan,Feb) still ahead of us.

Christine May8:49 pm 04 Dec 19

I am scared witless for what is coming to South Durras tomorrow.My three May men, husband Paul, son Kit and bro in law, Mick have stayed, prepped ours and others houses and are ready too defend or hike to the beach.

time for permanent paid fire brigades in all areas .So much could be done in cooler months to prevent these hot fires.IF you do not have the water facilities at your home to fight the fires maybe leave ,GOOD luck everyone

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