Snowy bushfire: fears for Namadgi

Snowybushfire: fears for Namadgi

7 February 2007

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New South Wales, Australia — Authorities fear a bushfire raging in the SnowyMountains could enter Namadgi National Park, with the blaze 12km from the ACTborder yesterday.

Two fires, sparked by lightning strikes last Friday, have joined to form onelarge blaze which has burnt around 8000ha in rugged terrain between theTantangara Reservoir and the Snowy Mountain Highway, south of Tumut.

About 200 firefighters, including two teams from the ACT Rural Fire Service,are battling the fire supported by 16 aircraft and heavy machinery.

Authorities are taking no chances, with NSW Rural Fire Service actingCommissioner Rob Rogers meeting with senior ACT fire officials in Canberrayesterday to discuss the fire threat.

Mr Rogers said the fire did not pose a threat to urban parts of the ACT butthere were concerns it could hit Namadgi National Park.

“Obviously there is the potential that if we have really bad winds verystrong south westerly winds, then potentially the fire could enter the ACT,”he said.

Newsletters have been distributed to Brindabella residents and phone andemail trees set up.

But a NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman said the measures were due to heavysmoke and there was no threat to residents or property in the area.

At Adaminaby, 51km north-west of Cooma, a community briefing was held forlocal residents and those in surrounding areas including Yaouk and Anglers Reach.

While fire authorities signalled the possibility of closing Namadgi tovisitors, an Environment ACT spokeswoman said there were no plans to do thatlate yesterday.

Mr Rogers said he had every confidence in the firefighting strategies inplace and was hopeful the blaze would be contained by today.

But containment would be dependent on the weather, he said.

Gusty afternoon winds have been playing havoc with the fire, causing spotting.

Authorities are hoping thunderstorms forecast today will bring much-neededrain.

But the Bureau of Meteorology has predicted another day of very high firedanger, with 30 degree temperatures and north-westerly winds gusting up to30kmh.

ACT Emergency Services Agency Commissioner Gregor Manson said the territorywas well prepared for any fire threat and had a strong partnership with NSW.

“Part of this meeting is to ensure we have future plans in place shouldthis fire escalate over the next few days,” he said. “At this stage itis well away from urban areas of Canberra … about 50km.”

Smoke from the fire is likely to remain across Canberra for the next few daysand there have been reports of ash falling in South Canberra and Tuggeranong.

In response to the high smoke levels, ACT Health has advised sufferers ofasthma and other chronic health conditions to avoid vigorous exercise and stayindoors wherever possible.

Long Plain, Kings Cross and Tantangara roads and Broken Cart Train atBoundary Road, were closed to tourists yesterday. Also off bounds were Currangoand Cooleman homesteads, Blue Waterholes, Mt Selwyn and Yarrangobilly Caves.

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