RELATED CONTENT: Stock lost in fire
Update Saturday 2pm
MONITORING and patrols of the Currandooley fire continued on Friday and Saturday.
The 3387ha fire ground has been reduced to hot spots, Lake George RFS operations officer David Loft said.
“Five trucks are monitoring and patrolling today and again on Sunday and Monday. All next week the local brigade will be doing morning and afternoon patrols,” he said.
“There were a few niggly bits on Friday night in trees and pine needles. One tree was felled in the Mount Fairy Road area.”
Wind changes in the late afternoon usually expose ground still burning.
The State Government’s section 44 emergency order, enabling the RFS to call in extra resources such as large aircraft, was revoked at noon Saturday. Mr Loft said it was no longer an emergency but the RFS could enlist help from the ACT at any time if needed.
He did not expect the fire to be declared out until later in the week.
Update Thursday 6pm
THE Currandooley fire was contained at 11am today.
Overnight rain and light drizzle today at noon has given firefighters welcome reprieve, RFS public liaison officer Fred Nichols said. Some 5mm to 10mm is also expected tomorrow.
“The change of weather dropped the fire’s intensity and we are now strengthening containment lines and blacking out hot spots,” Mr Nichols said.
“We will be patrolling over the next couple days and we hope by Saturday it will be completely blacked out. But that depends on the weather.”
Three aircraft continued dousing flames today. They were joined by 15 trucks, comprising 65 personnel, two Remote Area Firefighting Teams and three heavy plant.
Mr Nichol said it was no longer a “raging fire” and the hot spots were restricted to the blaze’s footprint.
The Currandooley outbreak has burnt a total 3385ha. It has destroyed one house, 100 cattle, 200 sheep, two vehicles, sheds and fencing. Mr Nichol said the full extent of stock losses would become clear when crews could reach the centre of the fire ground. However he didn’t expect vastly more, given the fire was contained within the footprint.
Investigations into the cause are still underway.
Infigen’s general manager of strategy and corporate affairs Richard Farrell said he’d await the results. The fire started behind its Capital Wind Farm, off Taylors Creek Road.
Mr Farrell acknowledged “community speculation” that a bird landing on a wind farm power line had sparked the outbreak.
“(But) we don’t know and we’re open to any investigation that’s underway,” he said.
Mr Farrell told The Post the fire started a few hundred metres from the turbines but there were no visible burn marks between them and where the blaze began.
Infigen temporarily shut down the Capital and Woodlawn wind farms’ operation on Wednesday due to a wind directional change and road closures. But Mr Farrell said with the outbreak now under control, the turbines were “re-energised” for operation today.
Update Thursday 10:45am
RFS public liaison officer Fred Nichols say the Currandooley fire is 90 per cent contained.
Efforts today will concentrate on dousing hot spots on the vast fire ground.
“Light rain over most of the fire last night was a great help to crews,” Mr Nicholls said.
“Once the rain started, the incident controller stood down some crews that had been there a long time.’
A task force from the Monaro remained all night, allowing other RFS crews to black out edges and hot spots, settling things down for Thursday.
There have been no further stock or property losses.
Mr Nicholls said crews would endeavour toady to douse all hotspots to prevent further flare-ups but he expected patrols to continue for many days.
Police are investigating the cause but it is not deemed suspicious.
UPDATE Thursday 10:15am
THE Rural Fire Service advises that the Currandooley fire is under control.
However it is not fully contained yet due to several hot spots on the fire ground which remote access teams are investigating. The RFS is awaiting further advice on these.
Cooler weather helped crews tackle the 3500ha blaze overnight.
All roads are now open. More detail to come.
UPDATE Wednesday 9pm
LAKE George RFS public liaison officer Fred Nichols reported that the Currandooley fire was holding in the same areas.
“The wind change came through and cooled things right down. The fire behaviour has really softened,” he said.
The southeasterly cooled the temperature from 34 degrees at Tarago to the current 18 degrees.
RFS crews will be working all night.
UPDATE Wednesday 7.30pm
A BIRD strike on a powerline at the Capital wind farm could have sparked the large Currandooley fire.
RFS Lake George public liaison officer Fred Nichols said this had not been confirmed at this stage but it was an early line of investigation.
Infigen Energy temporarily shut down operations at its Capital and Woodlawn wind farms on Tuesday. A spokesman said the company would assist investigations.
Meantime, the fire is being controlled. Crews quickly jumped on a flare-up near the Capital Wind Farm off Taylors Creek Road at about 6pm. Mr Nichols said it was a small fire near a house but units rapidly contained the outbreak, without any real threat to property.
The blaze had burnt through 3400 hectares, destroyed one house, 100 cattle, 200 sheep, two vehicles, minor sheds and fencing, Mr Nichols said.
There is no current threat to stock or property.
“The temperature drop has been a big help,” he told The Post.
”We are not out of the woods yet but things are looking a bit better. It is still being controlled due to the wind backing off but it is also chopping and changing on the fire ground.”
Wind speeds have picked up since Mr Nichols made the comment.
Thirty-five NSW RFS units, five ACT RFS, eight heavy plant, including bulldozers and graders, three bulk water tankers and some eight aircraft are currently fighting the blaze.
Mr Nichols said these numbers would be maintained overnight, albeit with a change of shift, and only night-flying capable craft would be kept on.
Five firefighting task forces from the Monaro, Tumut, Sydney and elsewhere will be among the overnight effort.
The daytime resources were instrumental in containing a flare-up in the fire’s northeastern corner around Braidwood Road earlier on Wednesday.
“It went over the Braidwood Road but crews cleared it up and pretty much held it to the western side of the Goulburn Road,” Mr Nicholls said.
The total fire ground extends from the back of the Capital Wind Farm on Taylors Creek Road in a line of two flanks, each three to four kilometres wide, over to Braidwood Road.
Lake George units also also attended the Mulligans Flat Road fire at Sutton which broke out this afternoon. The blaze rushed through 523ha, prompting emergency warnings. The fire is now under control and sitting at ‘advice’ status.
UPDATE Wednesday 3.20pm
DESPITE flare ups of smoke in the Mt Fairy region, the NSW RFS Fire Control Centre at Lake George have just advised that that the Currandooley Fire is still being held on the western side of the Goulburn Road.
“The fire is still burning well in the fire-ground area, but there has been no enlargement of it,” the spokesperson said.
“That said. It can change with the weather conditions. There are flare ups within the fire ground area but the fire is holding in the same area.”
The spokesperson said the Tarago-Bungendore Road has been also been opened up.
“We had to remove a lot of dangerous trees from the road, but it is open now,” the spokesperson said.
UPDATE Wednesday 2.30pm
Several landowners in the Tarago area are counting themselves lucky in the wake of the Currandooley fire.
Pauline and David Rouse, ‘Cassadreen,’ Mount Fairy Road, were feeling fortunate there was no damage to their property.
“We must be blessed because we didn’t lose anything,” Mrs Rouse said.
“It stopped at our road, turned and headed toward the Braidwood Road, which it jumped. The firies were wonderful and stopped it from coming on our place.”
A neighbour wasn’t so fortunate. Mrs Rouse said Fred Kuhn lost land and at least 43 sheep, which had to be put down.
Local Land Services bio-security staff and a vet were on the fire ground on Wednesday morning, assessing stock and property losses.
As fire rushed toward the Mt Fairy and Lower Boro areas yesterday, helicopters filled up at Mr Kuhn’s dam. Other vehicles accessed the Rouse’s dams.
Mrs Rouse praised firefighters who worked long hours on Tuesday and backed up again on Wednesday.
“They are the most amazing blokes,” she said.
“Yesterday the Southern Belle (water bombing aircraft) came over a few times, which was just incredible.”
Other properties on Mount Fairy Road were badly burnt, including ‘Merriman.’
Meantime, Stan Marsh, ‘Branxton Park’ was also counting himself lucky Wednesday.
The fire was 700 metres away from his house and he managed to move sheep away from danger.
“We’re lucky it didn’t come across the Braidwood Road,” he said.
The family lives some 10km south of Tarago.
Currently on the Braidwood Road, resources continue to file in, including a large water tanker from the Illawarra. Some 25 to 30 fire trucks are fighting the 3381 hectare blaze which is ‘being controlled,’ the RFS website states.
UPDATE Wednesday 12 noon:
The NSW RFS Fire Control centre have just advised that that the Currandooley Fire is being held on the western side of the Goulburn Road.
A spokersperson for the RFS said there are a lot of resources on the ground, and on standby, with over 25 tankers in attendance as well as graders and bulldozers to assist in containing the fire.
“We also have two air tractors, a large air tanker, helicopters and a large DC-10 on standby if needed,” the spokesperson said.
“The fire is still burning, but it is being held on the western side of the Goulburn to Braidwood Road. There are no reports of spotting from the fires – so it is looking good at the moment, and we are reasonably confident of holding the fire.
“That said, an easterly wind change is forecast to come through this afternoon which may push the fire onto some unburnt material, but it will also assist us in moving the fire back. The critical time will be between 2 and 5pm.”
The spokesperson said the cooperation of the public is very much appreciated in observing the total fire ban.
He said up to 3200 ha had been burnt and there were no further reports of property damage.
UPDATE Wednesday 10am:
Local Land Services is urging people to take advantage of a stock evacuation centre at the Goulburn Recreation Area.
The Service’s acting local area manager, Annalise McGaw said the centre would be open until as long as people needed it.
“We encourage people affected by the fire to evacuate stock early,” she said.
Meantime, LLS biosecurity staff and the District vet attended the fire ground yesterday to assess damage and provide veterinary support.
RFS incident controller confirmed six sheep were put down. Ms McGaw could not say how many stock were lost in total at this stage.
UPDATE Wednesday 7.00am:
Braidwood Road between the Kings Highway and Tarago is closed this morning due to the fire.
Rain overnight helped firefighting efforts on the Tarago fire. There is a total fire ban in place across the region today.
The Currandooley fire has burnt more than 3291 hectares of land and continues to burn out of control.
The Goulburn Recreation Area is open a livestock evacuation point for people effected by the bush fire near Tarago. This evacuation point is being managed by NSW Local Land Services.
There is plenty of areas available for various types of livestock. Powered sites near livestock areas and amenities with showers.
UPDATE Tuesday, 9:30pm:
Fire continues to burn on a large front on the Goulburn Road between Tarago and the Kings Highway.
RFS incident controller Tim Carroll said the blaze was running in heavily timbered country.
“The wind has modified in the past hour to about five to 10km/h,” he said.
“While the temperature is still quite high, a thunderstorm over the northern section dumped 10 to 15mm of rain, which gave us a bit of a hand.”
The blaze is still out of control, with unburnt patches within the fire’s perimeter posing challenges. Crews will work through the night to contain it ahead of worsening conditions tomorrow. A total fire ban has been declared for Wednesday.
Mr Carroll also confirmed that a weatherboard house in Hazeldell Road, off the Goulburn to Braidwood Road, was destroyed. Owners of the rural holding worked with firefighters on scene and managed to save two sheds, but not the house. They were not injured.
No one has been evacuated but property owners were urged to implement survival plans. Properties in Barnett Crescent, several kilometres north of the Kings Highway, off the Goulburn Road, were under threat.
Mr Carroll said a DPI vet also put down six burnt sheep on a property off the Goulburn Road.
“Stock losses could be higher but we won’t know until the light of day,” he said.
UPDATE Tuesday 8:30pm:
A southerly wind change at the Taylors Creek Road fire has some residents worried for property safety.
Anne Sturgiss said she had smelt smoke for the first time tonight with the wind change.
She and husband, Goulburn Mulwaree councillor Denzil Sturgiss live on Willandra Lane, off Taylors Creek Road.
Fortunately, fire trucks are still stationed nearby. The fire front has moved well over to the east, jumping the Braidwood to Goulburn Road, south of Tarago.
“We have been very lucky so far but we’ll be on watch and act duty tonight,” Mrs Sturgiss said.
She first noticed the fire at about 10am Tuesday near the Capital Wind Farm and reported it to the Taylors Creek RFS brigade.
Mrs Sturgiss said that at one stage the blaze’s northern flank was less than 1km away from her property.
Firefighters managed to save a home off Mt Fairy Road that she was convinced would be lost.
Cr Sturgiss has also been helping efforts throughout the day.
“When it first blew up, he and a neighbour jumped into the truck and went down to the railway line where there were about 40 head of stock,” Mrs Sturgiss said.
The stock were not injured.
Helicopters twice filled up from the Sturgiss’s dam throughout the day.
“I was so impressed by the amount of firefighting resources. I couldn’t believe it. It was amazing stuff,” Mrs Sturgiss said.
But she told The Post the fire had highlighted a mobile blackspot in the area. The ABC had difficulties transmitting and people couldn’t communicate via mobile phone.
“It really is a big issue,” Mrs Sturgiss said.
UPDATE Tuesday 8pm:
Rain has started to fall in Bungendore, bringing with it the occasional lightning strike, according to a witness.
“There are a lot of stock movers on the road. People are still trying to get their stock safe,” the witness said.
Braidwood Road, Tarago Road and Goulburn Road between the Kings Highway and Lumley Road have been closed in both directions.
The alternate route is on the Federal Highway but motorists are warned to add an additional one-hour travel time.
The fire has now torn through 2455 hectares of land, taking with it stock and at least one house.
Fire fighters will work throughout the night to strengthen the containment lines around the fire.
The Lake George Hotel has offered free accommodation for those who have been displaced by the fire.
They have also offered firefighter or SES working through the night free accommodation.
“If needed after closing and there is no answer. Please message and I can come over and open a room if required. Please call 6238 1260 during operating hours,” they posted on their Facebook page.
UPDATE Tuesday 7pm:
The RFS has received unconfirmed reports that a house has been destroyed in the Taylors Creek Road fire.
Lake George based incident controller Tim Carroll could not say where this was and was awaiting further information.
It’s believed the home was in the Hazeldell Road area.
But he confirmed sheep had also been burnt on a property off Goulburn Road, past Tarago. Mr Carroll was unable to say how many.
“A vet from the Department of Primary Industries is on his way from Goulburn to assess them,” he said.
Two farm sheds and two vehicles have also been destroyed.
Mr Carroll told The Post the fire was spreading quickly with three-metre high flames fanned by strong winds.
“We are expecting the temperature and wind to moderate after 7pm and firefighters will take advantage of that to further attack the fire,” he said.
Some 12 aircraft are reported to be tackling the blaze and will continue until last light. One will operate overnight.
The blaze has been downgraded from emergency to watch and act status.
The Goulburn Road and the Tarago to Bungendore remain closed. Blockades are in place and only people with photo identity and proof of local residency are being allowed through.
A total fire ban has been declared for Wednesday for the Southern Ranges.
Mr Carroll said people should remain alert and monitor the RFS and media for updates.
UPDATE Tuesday 6pm:
THE Taylors Creek Road fire has now burnt out 2448 hectares.
The RFS has advised on its website that it is burning in the vicinity of Taylors Creek Road and has crossed Bungendore Road and Mount Fairy Roads.
The firefront has also crossed Goulburn Road and is moving in an easterly direction towards Boro/Lower Boro Road.
Firefighters are on scene protecting a number of isolated rural properties in the area. Waterbombing aircraft including the large and very large air tankers "Thor" and "Southern Belle" are assisting firefighters on the ground.
An emergency alert has been issued for homes in the vicinity of Mount Fairy Road.
Tarago Road and the Goulburn Roads have been closed to traffic.
The Goulburn Queanbeyan Railway has been closed.
The RFS has advised residents in the vicinity of Mount Fairy Road, Hazeldell Road, Barnet Drive and Goulburn Road to shelter in place as the fire front arrives.
Residents in the vicinity of Boro Road should implement their Bush Fire Survival Plans NOW, seek shelter as the fire front approaches and follow the direction of firefighters.
Meantime, police will investigate the circumstances around a bush fire at nearby Wamboin on Tuesday.
Just after midday, emergency services were called to a fire that was well alight on Norton Road. It burnt out 5ha.
Officers from Monaro Local Area Command have commenced investigations.
Police would like to speak to a man who may be able to assist. He was last seen heading west on Ellendon Street, he was wearing black clothing, a white helmet and riding a yellow road bike.
Anyone with information or anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.
UPDATE Tuesday 4:30pm
THE Rural Fire Service reports that two farm sheds in the Mount Fairy area have been destroyed in the Taylors Creek Road area.
RFS incident controller Tim Carroll said the blaze had burnt about 2000 hectares and was still out of control.
An Ericson sky crane from Sydney has been deployed. Some 40 brigades, including 100 firefighters are on the ground.
Northwesterly winds are pushing the fire east towards the Goulburn Road and it has just crossed that thoroughfare. Emergency alert phone warnings have been sent to houses around Boro Road.
“We’re fighting a fire under extreme conditions and all our energies are focused on property protection,” he said.
Mr Carroll hoped easing conditions into the evening would assist efforts.
Taylors Creek road resident Joan Limon was relieved that her home was safe for now, given the wind change.
“But I heard that a brigade was going to a house up the road, which is a worry,” she said.
“It’s a very large, fast moving fire and it was very scary. I’m worried about our firefighters and our neighbours.”
Mrs Limon was heartened by the “massive number of trucks” fighting the blaze and the fact that aerial appliances had been brought in.
“There’s quite a lot of houses in the Mount Fairy area and on the Bungendore Road so hopefully they can save some.”
The Capital Wind Farm reported smouldering grass nearby but a spokesman said the turbines were safe and unaffected.
UPDATE TUESDAY 2:30PM
The Taylors Creek Road fire has torn through 1969 hectares and has been upgraded to emergency warning status.
Property and stock are under threat in the Mount Fairy and Boro areas.
The blaze is burning east and has crossed the Goulburn Road, west of Hazelldell Road, past Tarago.
The Braidwood Rd/Goulburn Rd has been closed between Tarago and Manar. The Tarago Rd/Bungendore Rd has also been closed.
RFS incident controller for the Lake George zone Tim Carroll said property owners in the area should take shelter as the fire approached, activate survival plans and monitor the RFS website.
“The fire is moving very fast and and we have not been able to get trucks to every property in front of it,” he said.
More aerial resources are on their way, including a large air tanker and air crane from Sydney. Thirty brigades, comprising 100 firefighters are on the ground.
Winds are gusting up to 40km/h.
“It is burning through grassland but the challenges today are the high temperatures and good grass growth, making for a fast moving fire.
UPDATE TUESDAY 1PM:
Three helicopters and two fixed-wing planes have been tasked to the Taylors Creek fire, which has burnt out more than 100 hectares.
Extra brigades and a strike team from Goulburn are assisting the effort.
ACT NSW fire liaison officer Greg Potts said the 100-hectare Currandooley fire had now crossed the Tarago Road, south-west of the township.
The road has been closed in the northern section, some 500 metres from the Taylors Road intersection.
Meantime, a fire nearby at Wamboin, which burnt through 5ha and threatened properties, has been controlled. Resources have been diverted to the Tarago fire.
The alert for the fire at Tarago is watch and act. Residents have been told to enact their Bushfire Survival Plans.
The Neighbourhood Safer Place located at Wamboin Community Hall, Bingley Road, Wamboin is now open.
The Rural Fire Service is reminding residents that a Neighbourhood Safer Place is a place of last resort and may not have hemergency services at the location.
UPDATE TUESDAY 12:30PM
The Rural Fire Service is determining if any properties are under threat near the Taylors Creek Road fire.
The blaze is burning towards Taylors Creek Road.
The service’s operations officer Daniel Osborne has nevertheless urged residents to remain vigilant, monitor the threat and activate fire action plans.
More resources are enroute to the blaze on the Currandooley property, 10km northeast of Bungendore. Mr Osborne said this included extra brigades and an aircraft.
Infigen Energy’s general manager of strategy and corporate affairs, Richie Farrell confirmed the fire was not close to the Capital Wind farm’s turbines.
“We have a fire action plan in place and are liaising with the RFS. We will escalate that plan if necessary,” he said.
UPDATE: TUESDAY 11:30AM
A fire southeast of Goulburn has burnt through 100 hectares near the Capital Wind Farm.
The Rural Fire Service has declared the blaze on the Currandooley property on Taylors Creek Road, near Tarago as ‘out of control.’
RFS operations officer Daniel Osborne said the fire broke out shortly after 10am. No properties are under threat and it’s understood the wind farm turbines are unaffected at this stage.
Seven brigades, comprising 26 personnel from the Southern Tablelands and Lake George are fighting the outbreak.
“The northern flank of the fire is continuing to burn but crews are focusing on that and are confident they’ll gain the upper hand shortly,” Mr Osborne said.
Wind is blowing at 15km/h in the area, below a forecast 40km/h. Authorities declared a very high fire risk today.
Meantime, Taylors Creek Road resident Joan Limon said her husband Max was out fighting the outbreak with the local brigade. She could see smoke in the distance.
“The wind is picking up and that’s a worry. It’s already 29.5 degrees,” she said.
Mrs Limon told The Post she wasn’t feeling very safe.
“I never feel safe until Max is home,” she said.
The blaze is the largest in the area this season. A fire burnt 20 hectares at neighbouring property, ‘Pylara, two weeks ago but three brigades responded quickly. It started after a crow landed on the crossbow of an electricity line, causing it to short out.