Australia fires: bushfires menace homes and lives – and firefighters warn winds will create new threats | Australia news
While five emergency warnings were in place on Saturday afternoon for blazes across the NSW south coast and south-east, at 9pm on Saturday evening just one remained at the highest level.
The Rural Fire Service warned there was an immediate threat to properties and lives from the Clear Range fire in the areas of Colinton, Michelago and Bredbo.
The out-of-control Clear Range blaze was created from embers that moved kilometres from the Australian Capital Territory’s large Orroral Valley fire.
Snowy Monaro regional council asked residents in the tiny town of Bredbo – which had a population of just 352 people in 2016 – to reduce their water usage where possible “to ensure there’s enough water for emergency firefighting efforts”.
“Water is currently being used faster than it can replenished,” the council posted on Facebook on Saturday evening.
The RFS commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, said there had been no reported damage to homes.
But structures such as horse stables, sheds and other outbuildings have been lost to fires in the region. An RFS spokeswoman on Saturday night said there had been unconfirmed reports of possibly five structures lost.
The Clear Range fire would continue to be a key focus for the RFS on Sunday, she said.
A southerly wind change is expected to push through very late on Saturday night and “with any wind change comes added complexities and potential new threats”, she said.
The type of vegetation on the fireground means the blaze can become quite erratic and spot ahead of itself, which can cause extremely difficult conditions for firefighters to manage.
“We do urge people in the communities in the entire perimeter of that fire to have a plan in place and to continue to monitor conditions because things are very likely to change, with the wind changing over the next 24 hours,” she said.
“Keeping in mind tomorrow is still going to be a very hot day with those winds – whilst it’s [forecast to be] better than today, it’s going to be a key focus for us.”
Fire-generated thunderstorms also developed over the Big Jack Mountain, Border Fire and Postmans Trail blazes on the state’s south coast.
The pyrocumulonimbus clouds are “very dangerous for anyone nearby, including firefighters”, the RFS posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.
Berejiklian posted on Twitter on Saturday that it had been “another difficult day in NSW particularly in the southeast of the state”.
Very high fire danger is forecast on Sunday for the north coast, greater Hunter, greater Sydney, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, central ranges, northern slopes and north-western fire regions.
In the ACT, residents in the south were warned that the Orroral Valley bushfire could pose a threat to lives as the alert level was increased to emergency, but later downgraded to watch and act.
“Fire activity has eased across the fire ground,” the Emergency Services Agency said on Saturday evening.
People in the areas of Apollo, Boboyan, Naas and Top Naas roads were warned to remain vigilant.
Temperatures in the nation’s capital topped 40C for a second consecutive day. Just before 3pm Canberra reached 42.7C.
In Victoria fire warnings have been issued for blazes across the state, with the highest alert level activated for an out-of-control bushfire west of Bonang, in East Gippsland.
Several other watch and act warnings are also in place across the east and north-east, including for Bendoc, Bendoc Upper, Bendoc North, Marlo and Tabbara.
Residents are urged to remain vigilant and monitor the weather conditions.