By Steve Cuff
Communities across the wider region have been impacted with the bushfires, some more than others.
Jindabyne, while not affected by actual fire were dealt a severe lesson in preparation last week. The town went into a higher mode of anxiety after Friday’s community fire meeting at the Jindabyne Memorial Hall.
What we learnt during these few stressful days while we waited to see if fire or embers would impact the town is that the township was not adequately ready for the situation.
Some residents frantically cleaned their property from excess leaves, bark debris and rubbish, all fuel for an expected ember attack that was forecast.
I am not pointing the finger here; I was one of those people who on a weekly or monthly basis do not clean up as regularly as I should. Having a gum tree shedding bark constantly is no help.
What was also revealed was how our town truly operates on a yearly basis with regards to town presentation. Apart from private properties, the town’s nature reserves, and crown or council land is not cleared on a regular basis. That should be addressed going forward
We all know Jindabyne will never win Tidy Town of the Year award.
As a fully-fledged tourist town there are countless holiday homes, holiday rental properties plus year round residents.
In any given street 20 or 30% of the street could in fact be unoccupied outside of winter.
Do all these holiday property owners maintain their property regularly.
Do properties in rental pools for holiday letting have ongoing upkeep to clean gutters and maintain gardens and trees within their property.
Answer, some yes and some would not depending if they are with local real estate agents or through Air B n B.
What has this PRACTICE RUN last Saturday taught us in case this fire threat returns this week or any other given week.
I think all property owners need to be constantly diligent, (me included) so as we mitigate any risk where possible should embers descend into our town.
When Jindabyne was moved from the Old Township that is now flooded, the surrounds of the new town was barren of trees. Over many decades trees have been planted to make the town more attractive.
We now need to maintain, trim and pay more attention, both private residences, holiday homes and areas council are responsible for.
Long grass that could easily be ignited by embers.
Now that threat of fire is in people’s minds, some out of town property owners are now trying madly to have their property attended to by maintenance crews which is great.
Unfortunately, not all handyman or maintenance businesses have been idly waiting for you to call, they have other regular work scheduled on their roster, or they may well be having their summer holiday as well. Or they have escaped the smoke and threat when asked last Friday.
So, if your request is not filled this time, perhaps you should plan now for the future and upgrade your maintenance schedule.
Community Meeting Debrief
What was the big lesson we as the town of Jindabyne learnt from last Friday’s community meeting?
I am sure we have all taken something positive out of that meeting we can act on. One is don’t panic.
One key MISTAKE many residents made was immediately starting hosing and watering Friday. Were you one? I know I was.
Overall on Friday Jindabyne used excess water which could have had grave concerns if firefighters were called into duty on a major scale.
Only water when it has the best effect.
From the meeting came uncertainty with many thinking the threat of embers or fire could be at our doorstep early Saturday. In hindsight I wish authorities had given a more detailed timeline of the earliest expected impact. Even if just a guideline.
I know the fire did not spread as much as originally thought which was relieving. In future you can monitor this yourself via websites. When we looked at the Fires Near Me app on Saturday morning it was evident those fires had not progressed as expected. If we educate ourselves now it will help in the future.
After speaking with fire crews on Friday evening and seeing fires still at bay at Saturday lunch time, Snowy Mountains Magazine posted a video on Saturday advising to hold back on water until closer to the time. It was extremely hot, and you could see the ground was as dry shortly after watering.
Snowy Monaro Regional Council also posted to social media on Saturday stating over consumption of water was causing issues with supply. They could not replenish the supply as fast as residents were using it.
So, heed the advice of “prepare and wait” is the key message.
The threat of fire in the town of Jindabyne could again raise to a heightened level this week, or possibly in coming weeks as fire still burns on many fronts around our region. And the “fire season” is only early, we are after all just in the first week of January.
Don’t be complacent, go about our business for the coming days and tidy and clear as we see fit, and then maintain this year round.
Fire wrap up for this coming week will be posted at 6pm Today.
Fire fighting strike teams are still in Jindabyne.
A smokey Nugget’s Crossing in Jindabyne.