Remain vigilant: RFS warns of tough day

RFS crews in the township of Tumbarumba this morning.

A fire that has grown more than five times in size overnight, ripping 15km south through state forest, was this morning threatening properties around Tumbarumba. 

Riverina Highlands RFS chief Jon Gregory said fire-fighters were in for another difficult day today and warned people around from Ellerslie, Adelong, Batlow, Tumbarumba and Talbingo – and everywhere in between – to remain vigilant. 

The fire is listed at 26,615 hectares. 

After breaking containment lines at Yaven Creek yesterday afternoon, the fire entered the massive Greenhills State Forest last night, and went on a run south, crossing the Batlow Road at Willogbung in the early hours of the morning. 

An emergency warning is in place at Tumbarumba, where there are unconfirmed reports of property losses in the rural areas around the town. 

For those in the township of Tumbarumba, as well as in the vicinity of Tumbarumba Road and Tarada Road, the RFS advised this morning it was too late to leave, and to seek shelter. 

The same advice is there for Darlow. 

Kunama and areas south of Laurel Hill and Courabyra have been advised to leave if they’re not prepared to fight the fire. 

About 200 fire-fighters are on the fire-ground. 

There’s five-fixed wing aircraft, two helicopters and the large air tanker also waterbombing. 

Firefighters have been battling erratic conditions, but the gusty winds that have predominantly been from the north, are likely to change after a front passes through some time today, with winds changing to south-westerly.

That’s likely to push the fire towards Batlow, Wondalga and Kunama.

Mr Gregory said it’s expected after the change, conditions may ease slightly. 

“But it also means the flank of the fire will become the head,” Mr Gregory said. 

There’s the chance of rain, but also of lightning.

The RFS held a meeting in Batlow last night, where it warned the town may come under threat today as the gusty westerly change arrives mid-morning. 

Those not prepared have been urged to leave towards Tumut, while those not prepared to leave should take refuge at Batlow RSL Club. 

If people are concerned leave early, now is the time to leave,” Mr Gregory said. 

“If they’re confident of defending their home, stay and defend.

“It’s going to be a tough day for all.” 

At Tumbarumba, many residents began leaving this morning, via Rosewood, and onto Wagga.

The New Year’s Day Tumbarumba Rodeo has been cancelled.

The following is the latest advice from the RFS, issued at 9.08am:

A map outlining the fire.

Current Situation

  • Fire activity is increasing.
  • The fire is burning south of the Snowy Mountains Highway in the Ellerslie Range near Kunama and Laurel Hill.
  • The fire is travelling in a south easterly direction.
  • Firefighters are working to slow the spread of the fire.
  • Deteriorating conditions are forecast on New Year’s Eve with expected high temperatures and strong winds. View the predicted fire spread maps.


Tumbarumba Road, Tumbarumba township or Taradale Road

  • It is too late to leave.
  • Seek shelter as the fire approaches. Protect yourself from the heat of the fire.

Darlow near Yaven Creek Road and Ellerslie Road

  • It is too late to leave.
  • Seek shelter as the fire approaches. Protect yourself from the heat of the fire.

Kunama, Batlow and Wondalga and surrounds

  • A strong south westerly change is expected across the fireground today, and is likely to push the fire towards these areas.
  • If your plan is to leave or you are not prepared, leave now towards Tumut before conditions become too dangerous.
  • Put your bush fire survival plan into action.

Areas west of Blowering Dam and Talbingo Dam

  • Monitor conditions. Watch out for smoke and embers.

If you are threatened by fire

  • Do not be in the path of the fire.
  • Protect yourself from the heat of the fire. Wear protective clothing and footwear. Cover all exposed skin.
  • If the fire impacts, seek shelter in a solid structure to protect yourself from the heat of the fire.
  • If your life is at risk, call Triple Zero (000).
  • If you are in an area that has already been affected by fire, there may be small areas of active fire burning for some time. Be aware of the dangers of trees and branches falling.

Other Information

  • An evacuation centre is opening at the Adelong Services, Citizens & Bowling Club, 54 Tumut Street, Adelong.
  • Stay up to date on bush fires in your area by checking the NSW RFS website, listening to your local radio station, or by calling the NSW RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.
  • People with respiratory conditions who are affected by bush fire smoke should activate their health management plan and seek medical advice if necessary. Take precautions, such as staying indoors and closing windows.
  • For information on road closures, check Live Traffic NSW. Roads may be closed without warning.
  • Monitor weather conditions and weather warnings at Bureau of Meteorology.