Fire activity has eased

The Dunns Road fire has blackened more than 330,000 hectares of land.

HARD-working fire crews are well on their way to winning the battle against the Dunns Road fire.

About 50 trucks and their crews and 52 pieces of equipment from the RFS, Fire and Rescue, Forestry Corp and National Parks and Wildlife are in action against the blaze, which as of yesterday had burnt 333,277 hectares of land.

“The rain on Monday helped,” Riverina Highlands RFS District Coordinator Peter Jones said.

“Active fire is now really confined to the internal part of the fire. There’s no physical flames on the edges now; it’s more coals and hot trees, and the strategy for the next few weeks will be getting remote area fire fighting crews to work the edge and make sure those coals are out.”

There currently are three areas of significant hotspots, the Goobarragandra area south of Stokes Hut fire trail (this is the area with the most activity), the north-western side of Ellerslie which didn’t receive as much rain as fire crews would have liked (crews are likely to get on top of the hotspots in the area in the next couple of days) and active fire near Khancoban which came out of Victoria. This fire, while not technically related to the Dunns Road fire, is similarly characterised with coals and hot trees being the main concerns. This is known as the Mount Youngal fire, which as of yesterday had burnt 16,272 hectares.

Mr Jones said yesterday was a “bit of a blow up day” with regards to the wind, and that other fires around the state were getting out and away.

“Our threat has now eased,” he said.

“The wind has gone through here and we haven’t had any blowouts, so we’re confident that we will have this fire contained by the end of the week.”

Mr Jones is not concerned with any forecast weather or climate.

“It is starting to warm up next week; about 35, 36, but nothing is on the horizon associated with strong winds.”

While fire activity remained relatively quiet on the Dunns Road, it flared in areas to the east on Thursday.

Fires at Creewah Road and Countegany in the Snowy Monaro area, on the Clyde Mountain near Batemans Bay and in the Bega Valley, as well as at Adaminaby, were elevated to emergency level, while an emergency level fire jumped the Molongolo River near the Canberra suburb of Beard yesterday.  This fire was formed when the Kallaroo and Pialligo Redwood Forest Fire merged.

Those fires have since been downgraded to advice level.

Tragically, three crew members died when a Large Air Tanker crashed while fighting a bushfire near Cooma on Thursday afternoon.

The aircraft had departed Richmond with a load of fire retardant.

“[The aircraft] impacted heavily with the ground and initial reports are that there was a large fireball associated with the impact of the plane as it hit the ground,” Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said. He said there was no indication of what caused the accident.

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules was chartered by the RFS from American aerial firefighting company, Coulson Aviation (USA).

The RFS said it was engaged in “routine” waterbombing activities at the time of the crash.