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Tuross bushfire meeting to learn of actual risk by Fire Control experts

In the leadup to last year's bushfires the Tuross Head Progress Association proactively sought advice from Eurobodalla Council and the RFS on the preparation of the village ahead of what was an anticipated horrendous bushfire period. The Association held a public meeting and voiced their concerns in regards to the possible severing of access to the village from the highway as well as the potential closure of the primary (and only) entrance/egress within the village being Hector McWilliam Drive that borders heavily wooded Council controlled reserves along a west facing ridge. The community also raised their concerns regarding the buildup of material on the reserves below houses that back onto the lake along Hector McWilliam Drive in the village as well as the potential dangers of the extent of vegetation and build up below Trafalgar Road and in Chatham and Clive Parks. Those who have raised the issue of the single entry/exit and the potential for the reserves to burn were assured at the time that "Tuross was not at risk". The community, having seen first hand the 2020 summer fires, are more than familiar with the potential of ember attack. It was only by good fortune that water bombers controlled the fire coming towards Tuross from the west behind Coila and further good luck that intense water bombing saved Tuross from ember attack from the south as the Southerlies arrived and fanned the Potato Point fires. All the time that cold- embers were falling from the sky the throw-away line of a council employee saying that Tuross would "not be impacted by ember attack" rang sour.

As Council had, at the time, advised it intended to do no preparations ahead of the bushfire season in Tuross the community were more surprised to see trees being felled along Hector McWilliam Drive at the top of the west facing ridge that would have flared and cross the primary exit from town had embers ignited the Council owned reserve that they bordered. Obviously at the time the decision was made that there was real potential for ember attack (or arson). While that initial work was done it is only a fraction of the the area that remains at high risk, in the opinion or residents. In the leadup to the upcoming bushfire season the Tuross Head Progress Association will be meeting with representatives from Eurobodalla Fire Control in Moruya and Eurobodalla Council at the Tuross Rural Fire Shed at 8.30am on Tuesday 29th to discuss and inspect the high fire risk  bush in Trafalgar Rd, Chatham Park and Forest Lake Close, for which THPA has requested hazard reduction for nearly two years.  Surprisingly members of the Tuross Head Bushfire Brigade have not been invited to listen to what is said. A member of the THPA told the Beagle "There seems to be an out-dated mental block opinion that Tuross is ‘low fire risk’. Other than January clearing along Hector McWilliam Drive nothing has been done.  Fire season starts in a week." The THPA have a set of questions they have put together on behalf of the community to seek answers from the RFS on the potential risks and possible mitigations that can be carried out. "While Council might voice an opinion on fire hazards, potentials and actions theirs is not based on any informed fire-fighting knowledge or experience. Council, as the landowner, is under the direction of the RFS to do what is required and has a duty of care to residents as a responsible land owner and manager. They are limited by their budget which is understandable but that should not be a reason for their downplaying the real risk and their responsibilities by advising, without any authority, that Tuross is not at risk". The questions to be raised and any answers provided will be made available to the Tuross head community by way of summary after the meeting.

Above: Council owned reserve adjacent to Hector McWilliam Drive was a tinder box last year just waiting for a single ember to ignite it. Fuel loads and lack of reserve management have left most of the Tuross Lake foreshore reserves at high risk from ember attack from the west and south.

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