Heatwave raises fire threat

Fire-fighters across the region face another challenging day with temperatures forecast to reach 43 degrees.

Yesterday saw increased fire activity late in the afternoon on the Dunns Roads fireground, with flare-ups of hotspots mainly in the Kosccuiszko National Park and on the eastern side of Blowering Dam.

Today’s weather is forecast to get worse before getting better tomorrow.

Winds are expected to pick up today from 11am, gusting up to 50km/h, from the north-west.

A south-westerly change is expected tonight.

Firefighters will be preparing for new outbreaks while continuing to work on the active hotpots, the RFS said.

Riverina Highlands RFS District Coordinator Peter Jones said the risk factor would increase with the temperature and accompanying winds.

“We are still getting things popping up here and there, such as logs. There is still potential for a breakout under forecast conditions Saturday into Sunday; there’s a change due on Sunday which could potentially bring some storms and ignitions,” Mr Jones said.

A fire prediction map released by NSW RFS yesterday indicates the fire could throw embers to the east of the current fire front in the KNP.

A NSW RFS fire prediction map released yesterday, shows the potential spread of fires.

“If anything the biggest threat at the moment would the unburnt areas that border that eastern side,” he said.

Mr Jones said that area, to the south of Goobarragandra, continues to be closely monitored.

There are currently RFS tankers and National Parks and Forestry crews in the Goobarragandra, and more remote area crews have been winched in and are using hand tools.

“We’ve got 10 new Kiwis that are starting work,” Mr Jones said.

“They’re going to be deployed here or they may go onto the eastern side of Brindabella to do some prep work for the ACT fire in case it does come this way.”

Easterly winds, meantime have pushed the Canberra fire closer to the Snowy Valleys but “It is still in the ACT boundary.”

‘The weather forecast is in favour of that fire staying away from us from Saturday onwards,” he said.

Authorities have warned that fire, named the Orroral Valley fire, is the most serious blaze the capital has faced since the deadly 2003 bushfires, which destroyed almost 500 homes and led to four deaths.

Authorities were closely monitoring that blaze overnight, with rural properties under threat as the out-of-control Orroral Valley bushfire burned south of the capital.

An emergency warning was issued yesterday afternoon for the Orroral Valley fire in the Namadgi National Park after a state of emergency was declared across the ACT.

The Orroral Valley bushfire was downgraded to a “Watch and Act” level alert early on Saturday morning, however residents of Tharwa and the Canberra suburbs of Banks, Gordon and Conder are being advised to monitor conditions closely and be ready to act.

The fire is still out of control and conditions today are expected to again become erratic and volatile, with heavy spotting to the east, south and west of the fire.

So far the blaze has burnt through more than 28,600 hectares of bushland.

The Dunns Road fire has burnt 333,941 hectares, and in the Snowy Valleys has destroyed 182 houses and damaged 44 more, destroyed 46 facilities and damaged 29 more, and destroyed 587 outbuildings and damaged 170 more.