Bemboka bushfire: RFS confirm three houses destroyed

UPDATE 4.30PM: Due to improved weather conditions, late on Monday afternoon the NSW Rural Fire Service started a significant backburning operation around the bushfire near Bemboka.

The work is taking place on the southern and south eastern sections of the fire, along the Ooranook Trail to the bottom of Numbugga Walls. 

“We want to be able to take out the unburnt fuel between the current fire and where our containment line is,” NSW RFS community safety officer Marty Webster said.

“It’s giving us the chance to get on the front foot a little bit.” 

He said if the improved weather conditions continued, it would permit the firefighters to start backburning on the north eastern section of the fire as well that evening.

He said the community can expect to see smoke due to the backburning. 

The fire has now spread to cover about 6000ha. 

1PM: An investigation is underway into the cause of the bushfire that started near Bemboka and has spread to cover over 5500ha.

By Monday morning, it had destroyed three houses on Desert Creek Rd. 

NSW Rural Fire Service community safety officer Marty Webster said while the firefighters did see challenging conditions over the weekend, fortunately they manged to hold the containment lines.

“Although the fire has grown, it is still within the overall containment strategy,” he said. 

“We don’t have containment on the northern flank, but we do have a strategy in place which will involve some significant backburning.”

He said the backburning was planned to take place later on Monday, but they were still studying the weather before beginning the operation.

On the southern flank of the blaze there was still unburnt country between it and the containment lines, so Mr Webster said backburning would most likely take place there as well.

He said weather conditions on Monday were benign and expected them to be favourable for the rest of the week. 

On Sunday, the RFS said the fire was moving towards Brogo and warned residents there and in surrounding areas - including Desert Creek Rd, Hawks Head Rd and Dorrigo Rd – to check and follow their bushfire survival plan.

Mr Webster said residents of the Brogo area still needed to be keeping themselves informed and to have plans in place, but conditions had eased as of early Monday afternoon. 

He invited residents of the area to the community meeting to be held at 6pm that night at the Brogo Rural Fire Brigade Station on Warrigul Range Rd, to inform them about the plans for backburning and to let them know there would be smoke in the area as a result of those plans. 

Over 100 firefighters have been working on the ground since Friday, with less at night but still remaining as a strong presence in the area. 

“They have been very well supported by aircraft. Aircraft have played an enormous role in holding the fire,” Mr Webster said. 

“So much of the fire was in inaccessible terrain, we’ve been pretty reliant on the air support.” 

When asked the total cost of the firefighting operation so far, he did not have a final sum. But he said “aerial resources don’t come cheap” and the “costs do add up”. 

10AM: Three houses and five outbuildings have been destroyed in the bushfire that started off Yankees Gap Rd last week. 

The numbers have increased since Thursday, August 16, when the NSW Rural Fire Service reported two houses and four outbuildings had been lost. 

On Sunday afternoon fire crews, including multiple air assets and other support staff, worked to hold the fire along Double Creek near Dorrigo and Stock Ridge Roads. 

Overnight crews continued to strengthen containment lines that night, ahead of strong winds again forecast for Monday, August 20.

The RFS said firefighters would remain on the ground on Monday and may undertake backburning if conditions allowed. Smoke will remain visible in the area over the coming days.

Related coverage:

Early that morning winds were travelling mainly in a south westerly direction, with speeds peaking at 37km/h while gusts reached 48, but speeds reduced as the day progressed. 

In related news, a community meeting will be held to update residents about the current and forecast bushfire situation.  

It will be held at Brogo Rural Fire Brigade Station, at the corner of Hawkes Head Rd on Warrigul Range Rd, Brogo at 6pm on Monday, August 20. 

Updates on this fire are available by clicking here or by calling call 1800 NSW RFS (1800 679 737).

For information on road conditions or closures, call the NSW RTA on 131 700 or click here. Roads may be closed without warning.

If you need to report a new fire or require urgent assistance, dial Triple Zero (000).