As temperatures broke records and fierce north westerly winds blew, Rural Fire Service (RFS) crews raced to deal with fires in South Pambula, Millingandi and Brogo.
Merimbula and Pambula RFS crews hurried to the industrial site in Mount Darragh Road, South Pambula at about 12.30pm yesterday, Tuesday, January 8, to deal with a bushfire that threatened nearby factories.
Like fire crews all over the state, they were battling fierce north westerly winds and ferocious temperatures. Merimbula airport reached 40 degrees at 2pm while Bega was the first place in NSW to pass 40C with 40.2C recorded at 11.04am.
Just several hundred metres from the South Pambula fire, a large pile of wood was stacked in the Sapphire Coast Tree Service and Tower Hire premises; it was the water truck from the Sapphire Coast Tree Service that was first on the scene. Onlookers said that had it not been for the water truck, the situation might have been a lot more serious with dire consequences for one factory nearby.
Fire crews acted quickly to get the fire under control but strong winds meant constant vigilance was necessary.
Just as much of the ground was damped down, a fire was seen to flare up, out of nowhere, high up in one of the trees with crews springing into action to dowse it.
Neville Bobbin from nearby Bobbin’s Transport commented that if it had got into the leaves, there would have been little stopping it.
Meanwhile north in the shire things were more worrying for residents. Smoke from a bushfire at Brogo was affecting the Princes Highway just after 12.30pm. The fire was expected to impact on isolated properties east of Warrigal Range Road or west of Eagles Nest Road. Access to the area was limited. The RFS at 12.42 said people in the area were able to leave at that time if the path was clear. They were advised to go to a built up area such as Bega until the threat eased.
However, by 5pm the bushfire had spread to cover a 70ha area with the RFS classing it as out of control.
By early afternoon a fire at Millingandi was classed as under control.
Yesterday was the first total fire ban day for the local area for this bushfire season.
National Parks and State Forests were closed to day visitors and campers at Bournda, Bittangabee and Saltwater Creek were asked to go to a safer place just for the day. While many took that option some stayed feeling they were safer near the beach. NPWS sent patrols out to remind campers of the total fire ban.
No fires were reported in the parks at time of going to press. NPWS duty officer Far South Coast region, Peter Windle said there were several hundred campers in the local national parks.
Bega Valley Shire Council closed the Bega library due to the high temperatures. Council closes its libraries if indoor temperatures remain above 30 degrees for more than an hour. A spokesman said this was for the benefit of customer safety.
By 2.10pm there was relief from the searing heat as the southerly change arrived at Pambula Beach. Within an hour temperatures at Merimbula had dropped from 40 to around 26 degrees with a little rain to help cool things down.