11 September 2019

Yankees Gap Fire likely to grow, difficult to put in a box

| Ian Campbell
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Yankee Gap Fire from Pipers Lookout, Saturday August 18. Photo: Rachel Helmreich.

Yankees Gap Fire from Pipers Lookout, Saturday, August 18. Photo: Rachel Helmreich.

The Yankees Gap Fire is likely to grow and continue burning to the north over the next week as firefighters prepare for what Sunday’s weather will bring.

After Wednesday’s devilish conditions destroyed three homes and five outbuildings, the Bega Valley Rural Fire Service used Thursday and Friday to prepare for what was expected to be challenging conditions on Saturday.

“Saturday was largely a day of consolidation, the passage of the cold front did see fire activity pick up but nothing too alarming,” says RFS spokesperson Marty Webster.

“We haven’t had any breakouts, but Sunday’s westerly winds are the next challenge for us.”

Winds on Sunday will predominately blow from the west but may shift south-west to the north-westerly late in the day.

“Not too scary, but brisker than we saw on Saturday so we do need people to stay on guard.

“And then a few days of benign weather after that,” Mr Webster says.

“We do have trigger points set so we could see the Alert Level go up during Sunday, people need to be aware of the potential for us to go up to Watch and Act at some stage during the day.

“And they need to be thinking about how they will respond to that advice.”

Waterbombing helicopters are using the old Bega Racecourse to land and refuel. Photo: Rachel Helmreich.

Waterbombing helicopters are using the old Bega Racecourse to land and refuel. Photo: Supplied.

Firefighters from the RFS, Fire and Rescue NSW, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Forestry Corporation have focussed on holding the fire at Double Creek, near Dorrigo and Stock Ridge Roads.

During Saturday 37 fire trucks, 100 personnel including specialist remote area firefighters, 18 bulldozers and graders and 5 aircraft worked on the fire which has grown to over 5,000 hectares.

Out of area assistance has come from Lithgow, Cumberland, Southern Highlands, South West Slopes, The Hills, Hornsby, and Armidale.

Mr Webster says residents in the Bemboka, Numbugga, Brogo area are across the situation and always keen for detailed information.

“The continuing issue is getting containment on the northern edge of the fire between the Brogo Firetrail and the Warrigal Trail and beyond, the fire could potentially more than double in size,” he says.

“The nature of the country involved in this fire makes it a difficult box to put it into.

“This will be a ‘campaign fire’ and people should take any opportunity they can to enhance their level of preparation,” Mr Webster says.

Inside the cabin with NSW Fire and Rescue Jindabyne, August 16. Photo: Fire and Rescue NSW Station 338 Jindabyne Facebook.

Inside the cabin with NSW Fire and Rescue Jindabyne, August 16. Photo: Fire and Rescue NSW Station 338 Jindabyne Facebook.

In terms of the wider community response to this emergency, the RFS advice is clear.

“The best thing the broader community could do to help us is to ensure that they are well prepared so that if we get called to other jobs we don’t get tired up for as long,” Mr Webster says.

“Our resources are stretched, we need the community to do whatever they can to look after themselves.

“Don’t become a risk to your community,” Mr Webster pleads.

To stay up to date with the bush fire situation check the NSW RFS website or call the NSW RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.

The Yankees Gap Fire, 4pm Saturday August 18. Photo: Helmut Eder Facebook.

The Yankees Gap Fire, 4pm Saturday, August 18. Photo: Helmut Eder Facebook.

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I am positive and not at all revengeful and we all make mistakes but IT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN LIT IN THE FIRST PLACE! (Or the second place!) – Because we are in drought and everything is so dry and this is the windy season! I and my immediate neighbors have been watching it since we first noticed it, out of the blue and with no warning, on Thursday morning, August 9th around 10 – 10.30 am – we were all panicky! But after a number of phone calls we learned it was an approved burn (relief!) – but – what happened on and after Saturday August 11th, when many fire engines came and apparently put the fire out! – IS A VERY LARGE QUESTION-MARK!

I am surprised that the burn off season was allowed to go so long in this incredible dry . Too many people are just not capable of carrying out a safe burn off . Should property owners on the edge of forests need to more closely monitored when burning off ? . There is a lot to be learnt from this .

Fraser Buchanan4:32 pm 19 Aug 18

I have got to agree, I was out at Bemboka on the Thursday it was lit and saw the location and immediately thought it looked like it could take off up and into that huge forested area it was on the edge of and low and behold, look what has happened, the RFS spokesperson was on the radio in the morning of Wednesday when it took off saying it was a hazard reduction burn that had just flared up a little bit but was all OK and nothing to worry about…….Maybe it is time for a full review of how and when and where hazard reduction burns are carried out

Trish Silling7:44 am 19 Aug 18

The view from inside the truck as they head into that red inferno makes you realize the courage needed to face and fight it. I’m in awe of these special people. All of us who benefit from your dedication and service owe you so much, the least we can do is pray for you and support you anyway we can!!!!

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