TODAY is about two major priorities for the Rural Fire Service: life and property.
RFS public liaison officer Brad Stewart said the ability to undertake active firefighting operations once the peak of the day hits will not be possible.
“It will be far too dangerous and would just be a waste of resources. We are keeping the public up to date and well-informed and trying to keep people out of harm’s way.”
The fire, which has reached 140,792 hectares in size, is currently being battled by 65 RFS firefighters, 45 from Fire and Rescue, 73 from Forestry Corporation, 26 from National Parks and Wildlife and nine from Hume Forests.
There are 32 RFS trucks, 25 Forestry Corporation trucks, 20 from Fire and Rescue, 14 from National Parks and Wildlife Service and eight from Hume Forests.
Forty-one homes are believed to have been lost at this point.
“We’ve actually got some firefighters from the United States and Canada here, working in the incident management team, and Fire and Rescue firefighters from Queensland, firefighters from all our local agencies, Forestry Corp, National Parks, Fire and Rescue and RFS, we’ve got multiple strike teams, we’ve numerous amounts of heavy plant and equipment available to us, we’ve brought in two high velocity water pumps which can do 3000 litres a minute, so we can fill up trucks really quickly at two locations.”
They have already been put to crucial use. Last night Tumbarumba’s water supply was depleted as residents made preparations ahead of today.
“We created what you could call a beaver dam; we dug a big hole in a creek; they spent the night digging it out with an excavator and plonk one of the big pumps down beside it, so we’ve not got the ability to transfer water to fire trucks,” Mr Stewart said.
The RFS is strongly advising residents of Yaven Creek, Adelong, Wondalga, Batlow, Talbingo and Tumbarumba to not be in front of the fire if it comes.
“A lot of people have taken our advice and left the area,” Mr Stewart said.
“For those that are staying we will endeavour to inform them about any fire activity that they need to be made aware of and obviously emergency alerts will be issued should the need arise. We’ve got multiple vehicles available to us.”
The Snowy Mountains Highway has been closed as a precautionary measure so emergency service vehicles can have it to themselves.
“All people will be directed down Gocup Road,” Mr Stewart said.
He said Adelong may come under ember attack today.
“There is a possibility we may see a fire run in that area, but last night, firefighters did a really good job. The reports were that the fire activity in that northern area was quite low , so hopefully today, fingers crossed we won’t see much activity up there.
But the reality of the situation is that we are in extreme fire danger, and should fire take hold, it will run somewhere. We don’t know exactly where, but if it does run it will be uncontrollable, and will not be able to be fought from aircraft or from the ground. We will be focusing on life and property and try to protect as many houses as we possibly can.”