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Some local fire history

The following paragraphs are taken from the EUROBODALLA FIRE MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE BUSH FIRE RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN, February, 2002, Section 2.2.1:

"High intensity bushfires have been a regular phenomena within the Eurobodalla since European settlement. The Eurobodalla has a particularly bad fire history with severe fire seasons occurring every three to seven years. During the last fifty years, at least eleven devastating fires have occurred in the area. The fires of 1939 and 1952 are generally regarded as having been the most widespread, but those of 1927-28, 1953 and 1968, did incalculable damage over more localised areas.

The fires of 1994 generally started west of urban development and ran into urban development, under strong winds. One house and several sheds and fences were destroyed by fire, and over 60 homes were ignited and saved over the two day period. At no stage, did a 'southerly buster' impact on the running fires, otherwise losses may have been more significant. This severe fire history results from the combination of a wide range of factors which include topography, vehicle access and trafficability, frequent droughts, periods of hot drying winds and large areas of forest which for the most part have abundant shrub and herb layers.

Wildfire occurrence is closely related to the rainfall pattern. A large percentage of fires over the years, have been relatively easy to control and a number were allowed to burn out over very large areas. Their origins have generally been in the dry area to the west or on private property adjoining State Forest or Crown Land, the cause in most cases being illegal burning off to promote new growth for grazing.

Most of the severe outbreaks have occurred when fires which had been burning steadily for a long time spread rapidly with the advent of conditions of high fire danger. In general, this has occurred when the Spring dry failed to break, as happened in 1968, or when a wet Spring has been followed by a dry summer, as happened in 1939 and 1952. The most common direction of fire travel is from the west towards the coast, posing a serious threat to coastal settlements."

VIDEO: The 1994 Fires

In 1994 Sydney was experiencing major bushfire problems. Hot dry winds were affecting the whole of Australia's East coast. Crews from Eurobodalla were requested to assist with sydney's fires, but as volunteers packed their bags there was a firecall. All hands were needed to stay and fight fires in Eurobodalla, and none could be spared for Sydney.

An arsonist had started a fire in the Buckenboura area in State Forest to try to burn someone's land. A second fire started near Mogo and spread into Goldfields and this quickly escalated, "went ballistic" and crowned. It hit North Broulee along the highway to the bridge over the Tomaga River at Tomakin, where 23 houses were partially ignited. All these were defended by volunteers and saved. Every volunteer available was involved.

On Day 2 the original fire from the Buckenboura took off and crowned, crossing the Highway near Deep Creek Dam, engulfing the Deep Creek area including the house and sheds.

This fire quickly impacted simultaneously on Vista Avenue, Catalina; Surf Beach; Grandfather's Gully and Lilli Pilli. Every unit in Eurobodalla was involved in protecting property, as well as a task force being sent from the Riverina area to Sydney which was rerouted to assist Eurobodalla - 60 appliances. The only house lost was at Deep Creek Dam, as it was deemed unsafe to be defended. The 1994 fires raged for 5 days until they were brought under control. Nine fire fighters were hospitalised.


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