Battling Brogo blaze

UPDATE: Friday 11.30am

THE bushfire burning in the Kybeyan Valley area is now being controlled by firefighters.

Earlier this morning a Watch and Act alert was reportedly made to nearby residents, including those in the Brown Mt area.

About 250 firefighters will continue to work on the fire 20km east of Cooma.

The fire has burnt through approximately 9500ha of bush and grass land. Higher temperatures and stronger winds are predicted for today and Saturday.

Nearby residents should monitor conditions, stay informed and activate your Bush Fire Survival Plan. Local roads may be closed at short notice depending on fire behaviour.

The fire is burning in Very High fire danger conditions.  Under these conditions, fires can be difficult to control.  Embers may be blown ahead of the fire, creating spot fires.  These spot fires may threaten your home earlier than the predicted main fire front.

Check and follow your Bush Fire Survival Plan. If you do not have a Bush Fire Survival Plan, know what you will do if the fire threatens your property.

If you plan to leave, leave early.

If your life is at risk, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.

Continue to stay up to date with the bush fire situation by checking http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au, or by calling the NSW RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.

MAIN STORY

A COMBINATION of brutal temperatures and howling winds sparked an uncontrollable bushfire in Brogo and several spot fires on Tuesday. 

The blaze was one of over 130 that broke out across NSW in a horror day for the Rural Fire Service. 

As a heatwave took most of the state above 40 degrees, a total fire ban was declared and state forests and national parks were closed. 

With the mercury climbing an incredible 12 degrees in an hour in Bega on Tuesday morning it was less a matter of if a fire would start, but where. 

Shortly after 9am Bega was declared the hottest place in the state as the temperature rose to 38 degrees. 

RFS volunteers in Brogo were messaged mid-morning on their pagers to a fire at Warrigal Range Rd. 

Steve McGinnity from Brogo RFS said he was first paged at 10.25 with a call to attend a car fire on Warrigal Range Rd. 

He was unable to confirm if this had sparked the blaze. 

Mr McGinnity was at Brogo RFS with other volunteers awaiting news on the fire direction before they headed out to join their colleagues. 

Three Brogo RFS fire tankers were joined by trucks from Cobargo, Bega and Bega North.

Almost 50 firefighters, 11 fire tankers and two aircraft worked to contain the blaze, which had burnt out about 50ha by 1pm.

Water tankers from the Bega Valley Shire Council and private companies roared up Warrigal Range Rd to provide firefighters with water. 

Going the other direction were residents who were heeding RFS warnings via SMS to leave while the path was still clear. 

The fire was set to impact 12 isolated properties east of Warrigal Range Rd and west of Eagle Nest Rd.

However, RFS personnel were able to stop the fire from destroying any properties. 

Mid-afternoon a second blaze broke out in Brogo, approximately 1km south from the original fire. 

It was caused by powerlines becoming entangled in trees during the high winds. 

As personnel were already situated close by, the blaze was quickly brought under control and did not have a chance to spread. 

The RFS also quickly dealt with blazes in Millingandi and on Mount Darragh near South Pambula. 

“Crews in the area jumped on those really quickly before they were able to get into denser bushland,” Far South Coast community safety officer Marty Webster said.  

A report of a blaze at Coopers Gully near Bega was fortunately a false alarm. 

Throughout the afternoon, visibility on the Princess Hwy at Brogo and Cobargo remained poor due to smoke and drivers were cautioned to take care. 

A late southerly change brought strong winds, but also a small amount of rain to some parts of the Valley, including Brogo. 

On Wednesday, Mr Webster praised the efforts of RFS personnel the previous day and throughout the night. 

"Everyone is very tired, but crews worked through the night and kept the blaze under control at Warringal Range Rd.

"The wind overnight was erratic, but didn't affect the blaze too much.

"The RFS warning level has been taken down to Advise, but it is still burning so the plan for Wednesday is to attack the fire aggressively and we are feeling confident because conditions are better.

"There has been no property loss at this stage.”

The race was on for fire crews to make sure there was nothing left smouldering with temperatures and winds set to pick up again today. 

Of concern to Bega authorities is a blaze still burning on the Monaro at Kybeyan Valley near Numeralla.

At press time the fire had burnt through approximately 9400ha of bush and grass land. 

The uncontrollable fire has the potential to jump into dense bushland in Wadbilliga National Park, which would allow it to spread to Bemboka and Brogo. 

Mr Webster said local RFS brigades were “forward planning” for this event and were working with a liaison officer from the Cooma RFS. 

Throughout Wednesday and Thursday the RFS fielded calls from concerned Bemboka residents about the smoke haze from the Kybeyan Valley fire.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast for today predicts temperatures of up to 38 degrees and 25kmh north-easterly winds, followed by a high of 36 degrees on Saturday. 

Mr Webster said the Far South Coast RFS had started planning for the spread of the Kybeyan Valley fire and urged everyone in the Bega Valley to remain vigilant.  

"We want to thank residents in Brogo for being well prepared for Tuesday and urge residents throughout the Bega Valley to have the same level of preparedness for a bushfire,” he said. 

UPDATE: 

A STATEWIDE total fire ban has been declared in NSW for today (Friday, January 11) due to forecast hot, dry and windy conditions.

The total fire ban will remain in place until midnight.

The Bureau of Meteorology has advised some parts of NSW will have a Severe fire danger rating.

The NSW Rural Fire Service advises:

• In these conditions fires will be uncontrollable and fast moving, and could threaten properties with little warning. 

• If a fire breaks out you should only stay with your home if it is well-prepared and you are able to actively defend it.

People should report any unattended fires to 000.

For full details on total fire ban rules visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.

MEANWHILE, all walking tracks in NSW National Parks will be closed until at least Monday due to the severe weather expected over the next few days.

Picnic areas and camping areas in the east of the state remain open.

Parks in the west of the state remain closed and will remain closed until at least Monday.

The latest information on park closures is available on the national parks website www.environment.nsw.gov.au/NationalParks/FireClosure.aspxand people should check there or ring the local national parks office for the latest information.

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