MILDER conditions on Thursday provided a window for firefighters battling to gain the upper hand on the Deans Gap fire, which was still listed as out of control four days after it began in a remote area of the Morton National Park.
And that window could be brief, with a return to high temperatures predicted for Friday and Saturday with a total fire ban in force on Friday.
After horrific conditions during the day on Tuesday put a stop to active firefighting, work began in earnest on Tuesday evening and into the night, aided by a cool change and a weaker than predicted southerly.
Assisted by aerial support and six strike crews from outside the area, local brigades and volunteers have worked around the clock since then to establish containment lines on the eastern flank of the fire, in an effort to protect properties at Sussex Inlet and Wandandian.
The western side of the Deans Gap Fire, which is now burning close to Tianjara, is a new focus of concern with efforts also concentrated on protecting the site of the former Tianjara Artillery Range.
Fire retardant gel is also being used in the battle against the blaze, which has now burned out 6500 hectares.
While around 1200 residents attended evacuation centres on Tuesday and Tuesday night, residents are now on “watch and act” instructions with no evacuation orders currently in place.
Frustration has been experienced by motorists on the Princes Highway, which was closed on Tuesday ahead of the fire jumping the road at Jerrawangla, reopened on Wednesday and has been subject to intermittent closures ever since.
Main Road 92 remains closed from the coast and Nowra, with incident controller Ian Stewart appealing to motorists from Canberra to stay away from the area for the next few days.
The spectacular success of the RFS in preventing property damage and loss of life is also being put down to a pre-emptive section 44 (or state of emergency) rating which was secured in advance of the fire.
This allowed for resources to be put into place well ahead of the catastrophic fire conditions on Tuesday.
Thursday at the Shoalhaven Emergency Operations Centre was all about planning, logistics and mapping to prepare for the coming days and worsening conditions.
Residents are asked to remain prepared and keep up to date with a situation that is constantly changing.
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