Wingham is not in imminent threat - RFS frustrated by rumours

It's business as usual in Wingham despite the bushfire smoke. Photo: Scott Calvin
It's business as usual in Wingham despite the bushfire smoke. Photo: Scott Calvin

A member of the Wingham community put a video on Facebook on Thursday night , November 14 claiming he was told by a "reliable source" that fire was going to "go over the top of Wingham" and that "everyone should get out now".

"It's certainly not the messaging we've put out there into the community space," Rural Fire Service Mid Coast district officer Stuart Robb said.

"Obviously some people require additional attention than others, and it's (their) way of trying to get attention. It's frustrating from our point of view.

"We have had a significant amount of that over the last few days where people have posted or shared parts of information from various sources, and some of those sources have been a number of Facebook pages that have been established in the last week, such as MidCoast Fires, Fire Updates MidCoast, that sort of thing" Mr Robb said.

"The problem with that information is that, grabbing, cutting and pasting or sharing information from other sources - it's an individual or a number of individuals doing it so it's not necessarily time dependent.

"When we issue warnings across the MidCoast, when we put a a fire to Watch and Act or Emergency Warning, that's a timely notification. When we do that on our ICT interfaces, it also goes out to all the media outlets at that time, and it also goes out onto ABC radio.

Mr Robb said people should be getting their information from Fires Near Me, the major fire update that is found on the Rural Fire Service (RFS) website, or instruction from Police.

"Anything else that is unsubstantiated are potentially grabs from pieces of information," Mr Robb said.

"If people can't get internet, they don't have phone reception or those sorts of things, we always say have a battery operated radio, and then they can get the latest information well ahead of things happening."

Mr Robb said there had been some criticism that Fires Near Me has not been updating quickly enough. He explained the app was reliant on intelligence from aircraft.

"It is updated as quickly as it comes in, however the alerts will always go out. If you set up a watch area in Fires Near Me that has a perimeter that you are watching, if a fire comes into that area it will alert you."

What is the current threat to Wingham?

"There certainly is a fairly significant fire to the west of Wingham. Wingham would be impacted by smoke at this point in time," Mr Robb said.

The smoke covering much of the Manning Valley at the moment is a result of there being little wind to move it along, so it is settling in the Valley.

"Given the weather conditions have eased up somewhat from earlier in the week, we expect those conditions to continue into Saturday, possibly Sunday, Monday with them starting to get high temperatures and stronger winds as we move into Tuesday/Wednesday next week," Mr Robb said.

"At this point in time we don't have an Emergency Warning on Rumba Dump fire which is the one moving towards Wingham,. It is 12-14 kilometres away from Wingham and we don't have any alerts in place to leave early.

"But if you have respiratory issues, you are elderly, if you don't want to defend your property, then we suggest people take the advantage of leaving while roads are open should that fire advance. But being that distance away, they have ample time to continue to monitor the situation.

"There are a number of control lines that have been established in and around Wherrol Flat Road to try and stop the advance of that fire, but it's a considerable way ahead of Wingham at this point in time. So there is no requirement for people to evacuate. We wouldn't give that instruction.

"We certainly wouldn't be telling them the fire is bearing down on them at this point in time," Mr Robb said.

This story Wingham is not in imminent threat - RFS frustrated by rumours first appeared on Wingham Chronicle.