Out-of-control bushfire threatens homes and lives in Canberra with locals describing the blaze as a ‘dragon mushroom cloud’ as they’re told to bunker down and it’s too late to leave
- An out-of-control bushfire is threatening lives and homes in Tharwa, ACT
- Residents were told to take shelter on Tuesday because it is now too late to leave
- Blaze poses a threat to properties on Boboyan, Apollo and Top Naas roads
An out-of-control bushfire is threatening homes and lives in Canberra with locals being told to take shelter as it’s too late to leave.
The emergency-level fire in Namadgi National Park is heading east and northeast towards the small rural village of Tharwa, south of the capital.
The blaze is threatening properties in Tharwa as well as properties on Boboyan, Apollo and Top Naas roads.
Residents Canberra’s southern suburbs were warned the spot fires could get within one kilometre of the far southern suburb of banks.
Chief minister Andrew Barr told reporters on Tuesday the dangerous conditions were the ‘most serious’ they’ve faced since the 2003 bushfires.
Smoke rises from the Namadgi National Park fire burning south of Canberra. Residents of the small rural village of Tharwa have been told that it’s too late to leave
Residents Canberra’s southern suburbs were warned the spot fires could get within one kilometre of the far southern suburb of banks
An evacuation centre has been set up at Erindale College in the Canberra suburb of Wanniassa.
Caloola Farm manager Ralph Hurst-Meyers was desperately trying to convince three men still on the farm near the blaze to leave as they planned to defend the property.
‘It just looks like a dragon, it’s unbelievable. It’s like a mushroom cloud with a red eye,’ Mr Hurst-Meyers told AAP on Tuesday.
He said firefighters had told him the farm would become a trap if the fire reached there and said it was too dangerous to defend it.
Mr Hurst-Meyers said he had been in Canberra for the catastrophic 2003 bushfire and he’d learned it wasn’t worth holding your ground.
‘I know what the beast looks like. I’ve seen this before. This is a shocker,’ he said.
At a Tharwa community meeting earlier on Tuesday, ACT Rural Fire Service chief officer Joe Murphy told residents it would be a lengthy campaign to get the fire under control.
‘In all likelihood our worst day this week will be Saturday,’ he said.
‘We have some pretty ordinary weather this week.’
A bushfire burns on January 23, 2020 in Canberra, Australia
ACT Emergency Services Commissioner Georgeina Whelan said the fire was growing at 400 hectares an hour.
Erratic conditions are expected to make the fire worse on Tuesday night, Ms Whelan told reporters in Canberra.
She said the ACT was seeing the dry conditions similar to what NSW and Victoria had experienced.
‘Everything is available to be turned into fuel by this fire,’ Ms Whelan said.
Four large air tankers and four small fixed-wing aircraft were on their way to fight the blaze with conditions too dangerous for helicopters.
Critical infrastructure in the area, including nearby solar farms and the Telstra exchange, had been prepared for the fire.
Ms Whelan said some residents in Tharwa had told emergency services personnel they would stay to defend their properties if the fire came close.