Tag: Mogo Zoo

Historic town of Mogo devastated as survivor recalls ‘ferocious’ fires

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Lorena Granados was alerted at 5:30am on New Year’s Eve. The fire was coming.

“We got a call from a girlfriend to say “we’ve just lost my house, I think the fire’s coming to Mogo’,” she said.

The Clyde Mountain fire had made significant ground over the previous night, and was barrelling down on the historic tourist town with infernal fury.

“I was very sure that we were going to have everyone, the army, the helicopters, the fire brigade preparing to save the houses,” Lorena said.

“There was one fire brigade, there was no water, there was no waterbombing, there was nothing.”

Desperate and determined, she and her husband tried in vain to defend their home and the leathergoods business they had spent 17 years establishing at Mogo, just 10 minutes outside of Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast.


The leathergoods store at Mogo before the fires struck. (Supplied: Lorena Granados)

But the fire was determined to ravage the town.

“The fire was ferocious, it was angry,” Lorena said.

“We had three fire hoses going at once. The fire was just throwing the water back on us.

“The wind was that strong that as we were throwing the water it was just coming back with fire.

“It was like a demon attacking us.

They felt like ants as the flames towered above them, and when burning embers began to rain down, Lorena realised “there was no chance of beating this beast”.

“When we evacuated there was falling trees, power lines everywhere, still today they’re burning alight,” she said.

“It was a disaster, I would never wish that upon anyone, to go through what we went through yesterday.”

More bushfire coverage:


All that remains of the business after fires tore through Mogo. (Supplied: Lorena Granados)

‘This is the worst experience of my life’

Straddling the Princes Highway, Mogo is a familiar sight to many on the NSW South Coast.

But Tuesday’s fires have changed its shape forever.

In the Batemans Bay and Mogo areas, estimates suggest hundreds of structures having been lost.

Lorena listed business upon business that has been flattened by the fires, and said several homes, including her own, in the nearby Jeremadra had been reduced to rubble.


Much of Mogo’s main street has been razed. (Supplied: Lorena Granados)

“This is the worst experience of my life,” she said.

“I thought we’ll lose the business but we’ll have our home, we never thought that we would go back home and find it a rubble as well.

She said she understood that the Rural Fire Service did its best to fight the fires with the resources it had.

“We just felt so alone,” she said.

“I understand the resources are stretched to the maximum, but I honestly think they should bring the army in, or extra personnel from overseas or something.”

After heading to an evacuation centre, she said her family had time to reflect on the devastation.

See how Wednesday, January 1 unfolded in our live blog

But she also saw how spread resources were when lining up for breakfast.

“All they had was white bread and butter,” she said.

But after so long with such stress, bread and butter tasted like a gourmet meal.

Affected area ‘a war zone’


The Princes Highway through Mogo was once dotted with shops. (Google Maps)

While the town burned, staff at the Mogo Zoo remarkably managed to fight off the blaze, and keep animals safe.

As the chaos slowly eased, the full extent of the damage done to the Batemans Bay area dawned on Lorena.

There is no electricity.

You struggle to get a phone signal.

“We are blocked off … still burning and we’re still in a warzone,” Lorena said.

She said she feared supplies were running low amid a tidal wave of evacuees that had come to Batemans Bay.


Batemans Bay has become a central point for evacuees. (Twitter: Alastair Prior)

Now in emergency accommodation paid for by the Government, Lorena and her family are left to reflect on their losses, and to figure out a way forward.

“Like an organ’s been ripped out of our body. That’s what it feels like,” she said.

“It used to be full of artists, artisans … what you find in Mogo, you won’t find anywhere else.”

Now the community is grappling on whether that creative flair could one day emerge from the ashes of the town.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Zoo director takes monkeys and pandas to his home to save them from bushfire

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Hundreds of animals have been saved at Mogo Zoo on the New South Wales south coast, with staff battling surrounding bushfires and one even sheltering small monkeys and red pandas at his home.

Key points:

  • Animals including lions, tigers, orangutans and zebras were at the zoo
  • An evacuation order was called for Mogo about 6:00am on Tuesday, but staff at the zoo stayed and enacted their fire plan
  • The town of Mogo itself had not fared so well, with at least one business on the main street in ashes

The zoo’s director, Chad Staples, described the conditions as “apocalyptic” but felt he and staff were able to defend the zoo because they enacted their fire defence plan.

“We have still have a lot of spot fires,” Mr Staples told the ABC.

“It felt like Armageddon a few hours ago.”

He said he took several smaller animals, including red pandas and small monkeys, to his own home.

“Right now in my house there’s animals of all descriptions in all the different rooms, that are there safe and protected… not a single animal lost,” he said.


All the animals are safe at Mogo Zoo after what was described by zoo staff as “Armageddon” only a few hours ago. (Chad Staples)

“Everything else it was safer to protect them where they call home.

“What we did with the dangerous animals — lions, tigers, orangutans — is encouraged them to the night den, kept them calm, like nothing was happening, and we were able to protect them at that site.


Staff stayed behind at Mogo Zoo to help fight the fires. (Chad Staples)

“The only animals that saw any sort of signs of stress were the giraffes and zebra, but that was more to do with the activity of keepers being all hands on deck.

“We were moving vehicles around that had huge amounts of water and pumps and things on them to get to spot fires.”


An evacuation order was called for Mogo about 6:00am on Tuesday as the blaze raged. (Jebby Phillips)

But the town of Mogo itself had not fared so well, with at least one business on the main street in ashes.

Roman Leathergoods owner Lorena Granados said she felt “gutted and numb” after losing the shop she ran with husband Gaspar Roman.

“We fought ’til the end but the fire was furious. We lost everything,” she said.

An evacuation order was called for Mogo about 6:00am on Tuesday, but staff at the zoo, which was once famous for its white lions, stayed to save the animals.


The Princes Highway through Mogo. Roman Leathergoods and Repairs pictured on the left. (Google Maps)

“The zoo’s plan was always to defend the site, because we could make it safe here for all the animals,” Mr Staples said.

“Thanks to the amazing team that just love these animals like their family, we were able to do so. It was amazing.

“We got out and we watered everything we possibly could. Any species of animal that was small enough or in an area that we couldn’t protect, we caught up.”

Asked if he wanted one thing for the new year, Mr Staples said: “This is the New Year’s wish come 2020: come on, bring on the rain!”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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