Bemboka bushfire: Emergency alert downgraded for night

8.25pm:

Fire being reported at Nimmitabel is not a threat to homes or property the Monaro RFS says.

It’s in a 1.5ha timbered area with crews on scene to contain the fire. There is minimal wind reported at the top of the mountain, with a Monaro RFS spokesman saying they will keep on top of the site into the night and try to break up the fire with machinery as conditions allow.

8.15pm:

Marty Webster from RFS Far South Coast said while the fire has been downgraded, he urged everyone to remain vigilant.

“Check the app, continue monitoring your local conditions and stay prepared,” he said.

“While we have downgraded to Watch and Act, I don’t want people to switch off their plans.”

Download the Fires Near Me app for your smartphone, or visit the RFS emergency informaiton website by clicking here: www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/fires-near-me

8pm: The Yankees Gap bushfire near Bemboka has been downgraded to a Watch and Act alert, however it remains out of control the RFS says.

The fire is currently 2130 hectares and burning in an easterly direction towards Desert Creek Rd, Numbugga, Scotland Yard Rd, Garfield and the Snowy Mountains Highway, Walls Flat.

Firefighters have been liaising with people in the area throughout the day while the fire burnt through inaccessible country.

Conditions have eased slightly into the evening though difficult terrain and erratic winds are making the situation challenging for firefighters and residents.

Firefighters will remain on scene throughout the night to slow the spread of the fire and protect isolated rural properties that may be impacted.

Emergency alert messages have been sent to people in the area.

Fanned by strong winds the fire is producing a large amount of smoke and embers. Embers may be blown well ahead of the fire, creating spot fires that may threaten properties.

Advice from the RFS is to put your bushfire survival plan into action NOW. Leaving early is the safest option.

Continue to monitor the situation and follow the directions of firefighters on the ground.

If your life is at risk, call Triple-0 (000) immediately.

Bega Lookout, Albert McKnight

6pm: The Snowy Mountain Hwy has now been closed to traffic in both directions between the Princes Hwy and Kameruka Rd.

Anyone travelling east from Bemboka is being diverted to Candelo along Kameruka Rd.

No other diversions are available. Please avoid the area if you can and keep up to date on traffic conditions via livetraffic.com

Related coverage:

Bega Lookout, Albert McKnight

5PM: An emergency warning has been issued by the NSW RFS for the bushfire burning outside Bemboka. 

Their website states: An emergency warning is the highest level of bush fire alert. You may be in danger and need to take action immediately. Any delay now puts your life at risk.

4.30PM: The NSW Rural Fire Service has released information and advice on its website about the bushfire near Bemboka. It reads:

Current situation

A large fire is burning in the South East Forest National Park to the north-west of Bega.

The fire is burning in an easterly direction towards the vicinity of Desert Creek Rd, Walls Flat and Scotland Yard Rd, Garfield.

Firefighters have been liaising with people in the area throughout the day while the fire burnt through inaccessible property.

Emergency alert messages have been sent to people in the area.

It is fanned by strong winds and is producing a large amount of smoke and embers.

Under these conditions, fires can be difficult to control. Embers may be blown well ahead of the fire, creating spot fires that may threaten properties.

Advice

If you are in the area to the north of the Snowy Mountains Hwy and west of the Princes Hwy you should take shelter as the fire approaches. It is too late to leave.

Take shelter in a solid structure when the fire front arrives. Protect yourself from the heat of the fire.

Other information

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

Continue to stay up to date with the bush fire situation by checking www.rfs.nsw.gov.au, listening to your local radio station or by calling the NSW RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.

If you live in the area but are away from home, it may not be safe to return to your property.

For information on road closures, check http://livetraffic.rta.nsw.gov.au. Roads may be closed without warning.

4PM: The Bega District News has heard reports of residents evacuating from Desert Creek Rd at Numbugga. 

3.30PM: The NSW Rural Fire Service has confirmed reported fires at Kalaru, Greendale and Morans Crossing on Wednesday, August 15 were just reports of smoke coming from the 300 hectare out-of-control bushfire near Bemboka.

A spokesperson for the RFS said a vehicle fire appearing on the app on the Princes Hwy at Stony Creek, was a Fire and Rescue NSW truck malfunction, which was quickly fixed.

A grass fire at Nethercote  was contained at around 3pm on the afternoon, the spokesperson said.

A bushfire at Mount Darragh Rd, Mount Darragh, was also brought under control by the RFS on Wednesday.

As of 3.30pm the NSW Fires Near Me app reported an out-of-control bushfire at Murrah St in Bermagui.

3PM: Gusts of wind reached speeds of 76kmph around Bega on Wednesday. 

According to Weatherzone wind speeds hit 59kmph during the day, mostly heading in a westerly direction. The temperature reached a high of 23 degrees Celsius around midday.

A NSW Rural Fire Service spokesperson said the windy conditions had made it very difficult to contain a bushfire that spread from Yankees Gap Rd near Bemboka that morning. 

Around midday, NSW severe weather manager for the Bureau of Meteorology Simon Louis announced a severe weather warning for much of South East NSW due to damaging wind gusts. 

“The strong winds are associated with an approaching cold front, but they’re also very dry winds,” Mr Louis said. 

He said the state had a very dry lead into the season so there were very dry fuels that were also contributing to the dangerous conditions. 

Mr Louis expected the winds to remain to remain strong throughout the day, saying he did not expect winds to ease until overnight on Wednesday once the cold front had moved through. 

2PM: The bushfire outside Bemboka has spread to 300ha, from 70ha earlier today. 

Due to the increase in alert level for the fire, residents in the area have been asked to actively seek information and monitor the conditions. 

“They need to be carefully reviewing their plan and starting to make decisions now, don’t wait until it goes to an emergency warning to make a decision,” a spokesperson for the NSW Rural Fire Service said.

They said currently no evacuations were in place and no properties were in any immediate threat, but the change in alert level was an “advance warning”. However, there was the potential for impact later in the afternoon.

The spokesperson said all firefighting aircraft had been grounded as it was too windy to fly, so the RFS was working with landholders to make sure their properties were protected. 

“It’s a very difficult fire to contain, we can’t really get close to it,” the spokesperson said. 

They also said firefighters’ welfare was paramount, and it was dangerous for these firefighters in these windy conditions. 

Bega Valley residents can expect to see activity around the fire for several days.

The best way to stay updated on the conditions is to visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.

1.30PM: The NSW RFS has increased the alert level of the out of control bushfire on Yankees Gap Rd to watch and act. 

The website states under this level, “there is a heightened level of threat. Conditions are changing and you need to start taking action now to protect you and your family”. 

12PM: The Candelo Rural Fire Service published an update on its Facebook page to say the RFS crew could not get vehicles to the fire, and that a chopper had been send to the location for water bombing. 

The service encouraged people to download the RFS’s Fires Near Me app. 

11.30AM: A bushfire outside Bemboka has spread over 70ha and into the nearby Wadbilliga National Park.

A NSW Rural Fire Service spokesperson said the fire escaped containment lines from a local property on Wednesday morning. 

“There is no immediate threat to life or property,” they said.

Video of the bushfire. Credit: Helmreich Joinery

The spokesperson said there are currently 22 people on the ground, with National Parks and Wildlife Service sending more resources. 

There was also a bulldozer heading to the area, as well as a water tank and aerial support was on its way. 

Due to the wind and the dry weather, the spokesperson said they were dealing with “very challenging conditions”.

“Our challenge is looking after the crew’s safety, we don’t want to put people in harms way,” they said.

“This fire does have the potential to be difficult to get effective containment on, and it is likely we will be dealing with it for several days.” 

They said the RFS was asking people to refrain from burning on their properties until there was a significant change in weather conditions. 

There had been numerous cases of people with good intentions, they said, but the significant winds the Bega Valley had been experiencing made it hard to contain fires. 

Local residents were advised to keep informed via the website www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.

11AM: A bushfire is currently burning outside Bemboka. 

At 10am on Wednesday, it was reported an area at Yankees Gap Rd was alight, with the NSW Rural Fire Service’s website listing it as “out of control”.

This story Bemboka bushfire Watch and Act alert issued as night closes in | Photos, Videos first appeared on Bega District News.

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