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Hot spots still burning after Carwoola bushfire, near Queanbeyan

Smouldering remains of a property after a fire at Carwoola, southeast of Canberra. Photo: Alex EllinghausenWaterbombing aircraft helped to contain a grass fire burning near Lake George on Sunday as firefighters continued to patrol a massive blaze south-east of Queanbeyan.
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While thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon brought relief for crews who have been battling the fast-moving grass fire at Carwoola since Friday afternoon, firefighters were again called to a fire threatening homes off Tarago Road, Bungendore.

Spokesman Greg Allen said while waterbombing aircraft and ground crews quickly brought the fire under control, it had burnt out 17.5 hectares and destroyed a house and a car.

Meanwhile, crews in heavy machinery scraped the blackened earth around the Carwoola blaze to build mineral fire breaks ahead highs of 32, 35 and 32 degrees expected on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Incident controller Tim Carroll said firefighters were still combing the fire ground for hot spots before the return of higher temperatures.

“We had thunderstorms come through the area yesterday [Saturday] and that brought some rain with it which really knocked down most of the active fire we’ve got on the fire ground and it also assisted firefighters to get the fire fully contained,” Mr Caroll said.

“Overnight and today [Sunday] firefighters have been working on extending containment lines into the burn area ahead of any warmer weather we’re looking at getting later next week. Crews are also out looking for dangerous trees or trees that are on fire and looking at dealing with those as well.

“We’ve also got crews walking along the fire line and they’re walking 50 metres into the fire ground, they’re looking for hot spots, they’re using infrared cameras to identify heat sources and they’re getting in and turning that ground over, so where there’s pine needles or leaves and other materials that are burning under they surface, they’re turning them over, exposing them and cooling them down so that we don’t get fire re-emerging when warmer conditions come back.”

Eleven homes have been lost and 12 more damaged in a fire that razed about 3100 hectares of land at Carwoola, south-east of Queanbeyan.

Roads to the area reopened on Saturday with residents allowed to return home.

“We’ve had calls to trees alight in people’s back yards this morning [Sunday], we expect over the next few days that we will find smoking trees and hot spots in the ground where there is some heat still,” Mr Carroll said.

Building impact assessment teams have started examining damage and destroyed homes, including for asbestos.

An evacuation centre at the The “Q” again opened on Sunday and regional pubs, including the Hotel Queanbeyan, have opened their doors to affected residents.

Captains Flat Hotel leasee Heather Walker also offered up accommodation at the pub to those who needed it.

She said while no one needed to take her up on it, many relieved locals who had been defending their homes came down for a drink after the fire had been downgraded.

“Nothing like this has happened here in the time that I’ve had the pub,” Ms Walker said.

Mr Carroll said local residents had been making sandwiches and cakes for the local and interstate crews fighting the fire.

The ACT Rural Fire Services as well as crews from the Far South Coast, Illawarra and Penrith area stepped in to help their Queanbeyan counterparts.

Horse owners have also been able to take their animals to the safety of Exhibition Park’s Equestrian Centre.

However Mr Carroll said there had been some stock and pet losses.

“That’s the thing that gets me. The numbers have been fairly low, we didn’t have any loss of human life from this fire but there are families in that area who’ve lost their homes, some have lost animals they really care about and there’ll be people that will be hurting for quite some time,” Mr Carroll said.

Donations can be deposited into the Carwoola Bushfire Appeal account – BSB 032724, account number 362257 or made in person at Westpac branches.\n”,colour:”firedept”, title:””, maxWidth:200, open:0},{lat:-35.43171, lon:149.42056, text:”

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