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Evacuation centres set up and RFS volunteers recalled as fire threatens southern ACT suburbs and NSW border. Follow latest news and live updates
That’s where we will leave our coverage for tonight. Thanks for sticking with us. The last update we received from ESA was that there was no change from the advice it issued at 10pm, namely that there is no immediate threat to properties in Canberra, but there are spot fires threatening Tharwa. For those in affected areas, please follow updates from the ACT Emergency Services Agency on and .
We’ve just moved past 10.20pm, so let’s take recap on the events of the evening:
The easterly change we mentioned earlier is currently hitting the fireground. It is bringing with it wind gusts of 45km/h. This will be the strongest winds we will see for the rest of the evening. The Bureau of Meteorology’s Rebecca Tamitakahara is speaking to the ABC right now. We are still seeing those gusty winds for an hour or so following the change, but we are then expecting to see those conditions ease back. Temperatures are expected to drop to the early 20s, and they are expected to drop further into the night, into the teens. We do have another cold front approaching NSW and the ACT later this week and this weekend. What that means is we will see those warm temperatures persist and get even hotter, particularly on Friday and Saturday.
Pretty scary scenes tonight, and clearly triggering a lot of trauma longer term residents have from the 2003 fires. What a shit of a summer. Photo credit: Josh Cox
Professional photographer Martin Ollman has just posted a timelapse of the Orroral Valley fire to Twitter, showing its behaviour from afternoon to evening. It’s quite incredible.
RAW timelapse footage of the last few hours - Orroral Valley fire -Out of control
These shots show Canberra’s southern town centre of Tuggeranong, dwarfed by flames and smoke. This town centre is about 20 minutes drive from the village of Tharwa.
Narlah and I checked out the from a safe distance tonight ftom across . Its not looking good so stay safe tonight ! Nice though.
The latest emergency advice says there is a spot fire burning near Tharwa, north of Spring Station Creek. Firefighters are on scene supported by a dozer. The total fire size is now 8,106 hectares.
The ACT Emergency Services Agency commissioner, Georgeina Whelan, is speaking now. She says the fires visible to Canberrans are not the main fire front. They are spot fires, which are well ahead of the main front. She assures residents that aviation assets remain airborne and are keeping a close eye on the front. For our residents in Banks, Conder and Gordon, you may have already received a doorknock from SES, ACT Policing, or a defence member. That is not to trigger an evacuation. The doorknock is to remain engaged with our community, provide you with advice, and respond to any questions you may have.
This shot from a little earlier, as the sun went down, paints a scary picture. The ridgeline is ablaze.
A lot of people up on Mount Rogers in Canberra's north, watching the Orroral Valley Fire getting closer. This was taken at 8.50pm. No filter, just the sunset out of shot to the right.
Just a reminder that the southern suburbs of Canberra are not yet being evacuated. Authorities are doorknocking there, but they are not evacuating people.
ACT Policing, Australian Defence Force & State Emergency Service personnel continue doorknocking at residences in Banks, Conder & Gordon. This is NOT an evacuation at this stage. For ongoing updates, keep an eye on social media channels & website.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has urged Canberrans to stay safe, while noting Australian defence force personnel are helping local firefighters. An interesting aside, Morrison is speaking at the National Press Club tomorrow. An auspicious time for him to be speaking. I do hope he fields some pointed questions about the fire that will be still raging about 40 minutes to the south of the NPC, and the many others that have marked this unprecedented fire season.
Please remember to keep updated on the current emergency warnings for and stay safe.
Video: Orroral Valley fire, view from Davidson’s Trig
Joe Murphy, the ACT’s rural fire service chief, said the gusty conditions brought by the easterly change this evening will enliven the far western side of the fire, which is in the rugged terrain near Orroral Valley. But he warns: It is very dry out there. This is a heavily timbered area. This is a very dangerous fire for our firefighters and we will not be compromising their safety to fight this fire.
The latest emergency warning from the ACT Emergency Services Agency says the fire is starting to spot near Tharwa village. It is now 7,912 hectares in size. That means it’s more than doubled in size today. The situation remains the same for those in the southern suburbs of Canberra (Banks, Conder and Gordon). You should activate your bushfire plans and monitor conditions closely.
As the light fades, we’re getting a new perspective on the fire burning in the mountains. The flames are lighting up the night sky and illuminating the ridgeline. A reminder that the emergency services agency is saying there is currently no threat to property in Canberra suburbs.
Current view from Red Hill now the sun has gone down. Dark smoke and flames clearly visible. There are many dozens of people at the lookout, most silently looking in. Lights of Woden and Tuggeranong visible.
My girlfriend just sent me this view from her driveway in Canberra. She’s leaving now.
as seen from Macarthur ACT iPhone 11Pro
We’ve just had a brief update from the Bureau of Meteorology. Canberra will experience a wind change in the next hour or two. An easterly is going to come through. That will make things difficult on the fire ground. The change is expected to bring wind gusts up to 35km/h to 40km/h.
For those in affected areas, please follow updates from the ACT Emergency Services Agency on and . Also , and for road closures go .
The sunset over Canberra this evening is beautiful, in a haunting, depressing kind of way.
It’s disturbingly pretty.
Bushfire smoke against Parliament House.
We’re expecting heavy smoke throughout Canberra this evening and tomorrow. The smoke is expected to come into the city from 8.30pm and linger until midday. ACT Health has issued a health alert. It says: The ACT Health Directorate has upgraded health advice to the community due to the deterioration of air quality across Canberra from the heavy smoke. The smog, which is impacting the ACT from fires across the border, is extremely thick and expected to linger in the coming days. Conditions may also be intensified by the hot temperatures forecast.
HEALTH ALERT: Thick smoke is being generated from the Orroral Valley fire and may impact south Canberra over the coming hours. Read our health advice for smoky conditions here:
A request has been made for assistance from New South Wales Rural Fire Service. Murphy said the size of the active fire has made that necessary. They’re providing some support to the ACT tomorrow, I don’t know how big it is at this stage.
Rural Fire Service chief officer Joe Murphy says wind conditions have eased slightly this evening. He told the ABC: We’ve seen a small drop in wind speeds, which will calm the fire down a little bit. We’re playing it safe, we’re playing it very, very safe. Now is the time to be listening to what we are saying and considering you actions, it really is, but there is no evacuation order for Banks and Gordon at this time.
We’ve just got a new emergency alert from the ACT’s emergency services agency. The fire is now 7,912 hectares in size, so it’s still spreading. There is no evacuation order yet for Banks and Gordon, the southernmost suburbs.
Flames have now come over the crest of the mountains and are clearly visible to residents in the south of the city. One woman from Wanniassa, a southern suburb, has described the scene. She has been watching the fire all day from the vantage of the hills in Wanniassa. She tells ABC Canberra the plumes of smoke rising from the mountains resembled “atomic clouds” earlier today. Now, she says: The sky’s very dark, sort of purple and black with the orange behind it... I can see the flames along the ridge, Mt Tennant and along other mountains.
Flames now coming over multiple hills. Current view from Davidson’s Trigg with region of Woden in foreground.
Awful, flame fronts visible now, creeping over the range
It’s Christopher Knaus here, taking over from Ben Doherty. I’ll take you through the evening as the bushfire threat continues in Canberra’s southernmost suburbs.
Waterbombing is under way in the hills to Canberra’s south.
Take a look at this vision from our Firebird 100, the Specialist Intelligence Gathering (SIG) Helicopter. This footage is from the North-Eastern side of the Orroral Valley Fire.
Orroral fire south of Canberra this afternoon - now heading towards Mt Tennent / Tharwa. Image looking south over Black Mountain from Gungahlin by Dory head of post
The current view looking south from Red Hill towards Orroral Valley fire.
Flames now visible from the Canberra suburbs - tho at th9s stage they are not in danger .... the fire’s spotting to 1km south of the southern suburb of Banks.
My bubble is getting a bit scary inside... view from the front yard
My childhood home is literally the “last house in Canberra”- right next to the roundabout that goes to Tharwa. Mum just sent me this photo taken at about 2pm
Many Canberrans, like me, will be remembering the horrific events of 2003 as they anxiously watch the bushfire currently burning in the mountains. The 2003 fires burnt for days in difficult terrain in the ACT’s national parks – including Namadgi, the site of the current fire – before moving quickly into heavily populated suburbs on Canberra’s south-western fringes.
Extraordinary shot from Canberra Times photographer Sitthixay Ditthavong:
People gather outside Tharwa as the Namadgi National Park bushfire threatened Mt Tennent and forced the village's evacuation on Tuesday afternoon.
The Canberra Deep Space Network at Tidbinbilla is not currently under direct threat from the fire, but will be closed for the next few days.
With ongoing fire situation to our south and the expected weather over the next few days, we have decided to take the precaution of temporarily closing our visitor centre and . Please note that there is currently no direct threat to the station.
The latest update says the fire is now more than 6,000 hectares, and is running north-east and east. It is out of control.
The view looking south-west from Mt Ainslie. In the foreground you can see the Australian War Memorial, Anzac Parade, Lake Burley Griffin, and parliament house.
From top of Mt Ainslie now - take care and be prepared!
A quick summary of what we know about the fire so far:
These posts offer a sense of the size of the Orroral Valley fire as it threatens Canberra.
shot from car driving back to from coast~ brave water bombers like tiny birds circling
Flames from the have crested the mountains. This is the view from Oxley at 1720h today. The smoke is an awesome sight. This will be a long week.
Police say they’ve been working for weeks on evacuation plans for a situation precisely like the one unfolding in Canberra. The chief police officer Ray Johnson said Banks and the other suburbs in Canberra’s south, particularly Conder, Gordon, and Calwell, were not yet being evacuated, but should pay close attention to the bushfire and information provided by emergency services.
These are the current road closures for the bushfire threat, as advised by ACT police:
The community of Tharwa nestled at the bottom of these hills is being urged to evacuate as the Orroral Valley Fire burns out of control in the Namadji National Park
The indefatigable Lyndal Curtis tells us a water bomber is in the air:
Air tanker just took off from Canberra airport. (And flew over my head)
We’ve just learned that the Canberra bushfire ignited due to heat from a landing light on a military helicopter, a MRH-90 Taipan, which was conducting operations in Namadgi national park. The helicopter landed as part of reconnaissance work. Aircraft had been transporting people to clear land in Namadgi so that firefighting strike teams could be deployed to combat the fire.
The ACT emergency services agency issued an emergency warning to residents of Tharwa at 4.30pm saying it was too late to leave and to seek shelter immediately. “The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path,” the advice said. “People in these suburbs are in danger and need to seek immediate shelter as the fire approaches.”
EMERGENCY WARNING - ORRORAL VALLEY FIRE - 28 January 2020, 6:00pm
Not what you want to see when leaving work Stay safe !
We're not done yet.
Another gut-churning sight this afternoon. Namadgi National Park.
Good evening, we are following developments with the bushfire currently threatening southern Canberra. The ACT government says this is the worst fire threat to Canberra since the 2003 fires devastated the city, claiming 470 houses and four lives.