Snowy Valleys mayor urges residents to leave area

Snowy Valleys Council mayor James Hayes has urged residents who don’t need to be in the region impacted by the Dunns Road Fire to leave.

“If you’ve got somewhere you can go, friends you can visit, get there,” Mr Hayes said.

“Especially if you’re in Batlow. If you’re worried, concerned, have respiratory issues, you should seriously consider going, before you get evacuated.”

Extreme fire weather is predicted to return Saturday, while the mayor pointed to the fire’s run through Greenhills State Forest yesterday evening – under benign conditions – as evidence the fire situation could get worse before Saturday.

A community meeting will be held at Adelong S and C at 12 noon, where residents will be told they’ll be under threat from ember attack, while another meeting is scheduled for the Batlow RSL club at 2pm.

In a sign of the worsening fire situation, the official evacuation centre set up at the Adelong club is set to be moved to Wagga.

“There is the potential for Adelong to come under ember attack,” Cr Hayes said. “But Batlow is the bigger issue, given the terrain around there. There’s huge biomass around there.

“The main thing is just to stay safe. If you don’t have transport, contact one of the welfare agencies, or contact the council, and we’ll help.”

The mayor paid tribute to the extraordinary effort of firefighters.

“They’ve saved homes, property,” he said. “They’ve just worked so hard.”

“The guys on the ground working under horrendous conditions.”

The various agencies that are offering other support are also going to extraordinary efforts to help people.

“They’re working long, long hours, under difficult conditions,” he said.

The mayor travelled from Tumut to Tumbarumba yesterday and said it was amazing what had survived, but also what hasn’t.

“It shows the hit and miss nature of fires.”

Looking beyond the immediate crisis, Cr Hayes said the fires would have impacts for the Snowy Valleys region for decades to come.

“I don’t know what the value is to the community of the softwood plantation that we’ve lost, but we’re talking billions, and it’s for the next 20 years,” Cr Hayes said.

“That’s the longer term concern. If our assets are gone, we’re in danger of our economy shrinking.

“We need to start planning for the recovery stage even before this is over.”