Bega Valley firies in thick of action

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THE Bega Valley has been spared the destructive fire activity of neighbouring regions, but local firefighters are right in the thick of the action.

A task force comprising 16 Bega Valley Rural Fire Service volunteers, five units and a command vehicle have been sent to assist with firefighting efforts near Wagga, while 17 volunteers and six units from the Eurobodalla RFS are helping in the Tumut area.

RFS Far South Coast team manager Superintendent John Cullen said in both those regions firefighters are still working on containment and back-burning operations.

Mr Cullen said he is also in daily hook-ups with his colleagues on the ground in Victoria, with plans to potentially send Bega Valley’s assistance across the border as well.

“At the moment the weather there is calm, which is hampering their efforts to get aircraft off the ground to gain a visual of what’s happening,” Superintendent Cullen said of the dense, smoky conditions.

There is also a fire in the Palerang district, near Braidwood, with a Remote Area Firefighting Team (RAFT) crew from Bega heading there on Tuesday.

Thankfully, the Bega Valley has been spared its own major incidents.

“There have been a couple of small ones that we jumped on quickly, which was good news,” Superintendent Cullen said.

He said volleys of lightning have been responsible for sparking several blazes in the Bombala and Monaro regions.

However, here in the Valley it has been vehicle fires that have kept RFS volunteers on their toes.

“We have had three car fires in the last week or so,” Superintendent Cullen said.

“Whether that was from the heat or lack of maintenance I don’t know.

“But they can be very dangerous.”

Superintendent Cullen said it was bad enough someone was losing their vehicle, but with lengthy grass a common sight on road verges, vehicle fires can quickly become something much worse.

The forecast for coming days is somewhat comforting, with temperatures in the mid-to-high-20s and the chance of showers later this week.

It’s a far cry from last week’s heatwave when Bega scorched as the mercury edged up over 38C.

The heat caused issues beyond the threat of fires, with the Bega Valley Shire Council on Friday urging drivers to be cautious as local roads began “bleeding”.

“Last week was very, very hot, but there was very little wind, which was a bonus,” Superintendent Cullen said.

“Overnight we had a bit of mist – some areas even got 6-8mm and that’s still hanging around.

“However, we are still in January so everyone needs to remain mindful of fire dangers, continue preparing their properties and report any fires immediately.”

* Visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au for details on current fires and incidents as well as vital information on bushfire survival plans.

* Report all fires to 000.

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