Tag: Princes Highway

‘Killer’ trees litter fire zones across Victoria. It’s this crew’s job to clear them away

Melbourne 3000

The killer trees of Gippsland are not hard to find.

They are dotted along hundreds of kilometres of roads, their scorched trunks marked in spray paint with a big yellow “K”.

Key points:

  • Army crews face a massive task assessing 8,600 kilometres of fire-affected Victorian roads
  • The priority is re-opening 150 kilometres of the Princes Highway from Orbost to Mallacoota
  • Victoria’s state of disaster was lifted at midnight on Saturday night

“Killer trees” are exactly what their name suggests; tall timber, so badly damaged in the fires that they could fall onto the road at any time.

“There’d probably be about two, three tons of weight coming down on you. It’s not going to end well,” Jules Vickers told the ABC.

He is a Lance Corporal in the Army Reserve, and a highly skilled arborist.

It is his job to work out how to safely bring these trees down.


“K” stands for killer. (ABC News: Ben Knight)


Jules Vickers is a skilled arborist assessing bushfire-damaged trees near Mallacoota. (ABC News: Ben Knight)

Some trees look badly damaged, but the danger is often hidden.

“The root system can come away at the back where it’s all burnt through,” he said.

“That’s what brings the danger.”

Sometimes, the only way to bring them down safely is to throw a rope around them, hook them up to the Army’s massive armoured Bushmaster vehicles and pull them away from houses or power lines as they fall.

The scale of this task is difficult to comprehend.

The Victorian Government estimates there are 8,600 kilometres of fire-affected roads that will need to be assessed for clearance across the firegrounds — from the Princes Highway to the dirt tracks of Victoria’s Alpine region.

“It’s a very large job. Every road in the area affected by the fires needs to be cleared,” said Major Josh Farnsworth, officer in command with the 22nd Engineering Regiment.


Major Josh Farnsworth takes a short break in the back of an Army Bushmaster. (ABC News: Ben Knight)

The priority is reopening 150 kilometres of the Princes Highway from Orbost to Mallacoota.

But every road here is somebody’s lifeline.

Like Lynddon Poore, who lives at the end of the road the Army Reserve has been clearing this weekend — and brought the crew a batch of homemade muffins for afternoon tea.

“I just can’t believe what’s happening here with these people. I really can’t,” he said.

“We expected there’d be some work, but not this. This is terrific.”


Lynddon Poore is full of praise for the work of the crews helping the community. (ABC News: Ben Knight)

Even though the fires have passed, the work is extremely dangerous.

The fires burned through here more than a week ago — but blackened stumps are still smoking.


A crew can cover about 30 kilometres of road a day. (ABC News: Ben Knight)

They glow with embers when the wind picks up, threatening to burst into flame again.

This crew is clearing around 30 kilometres of road each day.

There are other Army crews working in other parts of the state, as well as teams from the Country Fire Authority (CFA), VicRoads, and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

But with thousands of kilometres of road left to clear — and weeks of the fire season left to run — this task may only get bigger.

Major Farnsworth said it is work that has to be done.

“If there are dangerous trees along those roads, we need to clear them so the community can get through safely.

“There is a long way still to go, but we’re here to do it.”


Deep gratitude is being shown to fire crews, with this sign saying “you gave us back our lives”. (ABC News: Ben Knight)

Stay across our bushfire coverage:

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

NSW South Coast to lose telecommunications as police confirm two killed in bushfires

Bega 2550

Large parts of the NSW South Coast are expected to lose all telecommunications in coming hours, as bushfires continue to ravage the region.

Two people have died and a third is missing amid the bushfire crisis, which has seen several emergency fires burn out of control.

Key points:

  • A power outage tonight is expected to knock out internet and phone access between Nowra and Moruya
  • Residents are being urged to move towards urban areas, or seek shelter on beaches
  • Authorities say two people have died and a third is unaccounted for

Father and son Robert Salway, 63, and Patrick Salway, 29, perished in the blaze, which tore through the Bega Valley town of Cobargo early this morning.

The pair had stayed behind to defend their property in Wandella, 10 kilometres west of Cobargo, after Robert’s wife — who is also Patrick’s mother — evacuated.

She returned on Tuesday morning and discovered their bodies.

A third person is missing at Belowra.

Large areas of Cobargo were destroyed when the fire ripped into the town, with buildings on the main street reduced to rubble.

But the threat has extended across more than one hundred kilometres along the coast.

Police are warning that the area between Nowra and Moruya — a large portion of the coastline — is expected to lose all telecommunications access overnight.

A power outage will mean the region will lose internet, mobile phone coverage and landline connections.

The outage is expected to affect hospitals as well as the general public.

As of early Wednesday morning there were three emergency-level fires burning in or near the South Coast region.

They are located at:

  • Badja Forest Road, Countegany, north of Bega
  • Clyde Mountain, near the Kings Highway
  • Currowan, where a massive fire has burned through hundreds of thousands of hectares north of Batemans Bay over the past month.

See how the day unfolded in our blog

Three more fires are burning at watch and act level: one at Werri Berri, one at Charleys Forest, and another at Clyde Ridge Rd, south-west of Nowra.


People in Batemans Bay evacuated to the coastline amid the fire threat. (Twitter: Alastairprior)

The Currowan fire, being pushed by a southerly change, generated a thunderstorm above itself as it bore down on communities between Milton and Nowra.

The Princes Highway remains closed at several locations and motorists are advised to stay away from the South Coast as there is no forecast for when the road will reopen.

Other road closures include the Kings Highway, between Braidwood and Nelligen and Turpentine Road, between Jerrawangala and Tomerong.

Video: House saved, shed gone, everyone's alive: Daniel Marshall returns home after fires in Quaama

(ABC News)

As the Clyde Mountain fire progressed on Tuesday, it encircled Batemans Bay as it pushed south.

There are serious fears for several properties at the tourist village of Mogo, however staff at the Mogo Zoo were able to defend the business and the animals housed there.

Residents east of the Princes Highway between Batemans Bay and Broulee have been told to seek shelter, as it is too late to leave.

Further south, locals say at least one building in Quaama has been destroyed in the Badja Forest Road fire.

“We have got reports from the field that some of the most impacted areas are in the Cobargo area, Broulee, Mogo [and] Fishermans Paradise,” RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

External Link:

Virginia Trioli tweet: Power out and can't use tap water now in Bermagui: police saying road to Narooma now closing and we will be stuck here for 3-4 days

“We’re seeing fire impacting onto communities, people’s homes and other infrastructure.

“We’ve had reports of schools impacted, we’ve had reports of businesses and some of the small town centres being impacted by these fires.

“We’re talking about the buildings being impacted, damaged or destroyed numbering in the dozens.”

Evacuee looked ‘into the gates of hell’


Caroline Long left home with her pets at 1:00am. She does not think her house will survive. (ABC News: Adriane Reardon)

Caroline Long evacuated her property in Verona at 1:00am as overnight winds pushed the Badja Forest Road fire towards her home.

She said she suspected she would not have a home to go back to.

“I’m not hopeful,” Ms Long said.

“I haven’t had anything confirmed but I’ve seen video footage from a neighbour last night who stayed and it didn’t look good.”

“It’s a weatherboard house on top of a ridge, next to a mountain. I don’t think there’s anything left.”

Ms Long evacuated to Bega with her housemate and her dogs and cats.

She recalled the moment she left her home and drove out onto the Princes Highway as “intensely hot”.

“It was just like looking into the gates of hell.”

People in fire-prone areas urged to move to beaches


Buildings in Cobargo were still burning after daybreak. (Supplied: Josh Mead)

Commissioner Fitzsimmons said Batemans Bay was being hit particularly hard by “aggressive and dangerous” fire activity.

“We are seeing, for example, a major centre like Batemans Bay, we’re seeing the fire burn right out across the Princes Highway, through towards the coastal areas of Batemans Bay,” he said.


People in affected areas have been urged to move towards the coast. (Supplied: Alix Dolstra)

In seriously affected areas, RFS spokesman Greg Allan said seeking shelter on the beach may be the safest option.

“If it’s safe to do so, move in an easterly direction towards the coast and shelter on the beach,” he said.

“If it’s not safe, shelter in place and protect yourself from the heat of the fire.”

Others in bushfire-prone areas along the South Coast have been advised to head towards more urban areas including Narooma, Moruya, Bega and Batemans Bay.

External Link:

Scott Ludlam tweet "evacuated to narooma. hoping everyone in cobargo and quaama got out. thinking of everyone in the path of this thing.. please look out for each other and stay safe"

“Staying safe in large centres, such as Batemans Bay, is a viable option, otherwise a lot of other coastal villages and hamlets, the messages is to head to safety and generally speaking, safety is towards the beach,” Commissioner Fitzimmons said.

“It’s a dangerous and volatile situation already down the South Coast of New South Wales and we expect that to increase as we see conditions throughout today before we see the southerly move up the coast.

“We saw extraordinary fire overnight, exceeding what was predicted in the given conditions.

“I understand the [Bureau of Meteorology] is looking to update the forecast to be slightly worse than they thought was the case yesterday afternoon.”


The Clyde Mountain fire has torn through forest and reached Batemans Bay. (Supplied: NSW RFS)

A total fire ban is in place for the entire south-eastern part of the state, including the ACT.

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

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