State of Emergency declared for ACT

Released 31/01/2020 - Joint media release

Given the severe fire conditions today and tomorrow, and the threat to lives and property from the Orroral Valley Fire, a territory-wide State of Emergency has been issued in the ACT.

The ACT is facing the worst bushfire threat since the devastating fires of 2003. The combination of extreme heat, wind and a dry landscape will place suburbs in Canberra’s south at risk in the coming days.

The Orroral Valley Fire has now grown to 18,507 hectares. This is 185 square kilometres or nearly 8 per cent of the ACT’s land mass.

There are a number of scenarios where this fire may impact on homes in Canberra suburbs.

The declaration of a State of Emergency is the strongest signal we can send to the ACT community to prepare themselves, and their family, for the worst possible situation.

This is a decision that reflects the very best advice and planning by Emergency Services Agency (ESA) Commissioner Georgeina Whelan and her team on the potential impact of the Orroral Valley Fire. This fire will grow, and it may become unpredictable, and uncontrollable.

ESA Commissioner Georgeina Whelan has the ability to coordinate resources across government to respond to whatever risk we may face in the coming days. There is no greater priority in the Territory than the risk posed by this bushfire and we want to ensure the Commissioner, as Emergency Controller, has everything she needs to protect lives and property.

We have made this declaration ahead of time to allow Canberrans, especially those in South Tuggeranong, time to discuss their Bushfire Survival Plan with their family.

We want Canberrans to think carefully about their movements this afternoon and tomorrow, and keep up to date with the fire situation from ESA channels or from local media.

The State of Emergency will stay in place until the city is no longer at significant risk from this fire.

Our emergency services and government agencies are working hard to protect lives and property. We will ensure the community is kept informed during this period of extreme fire danger.

ACT Government agencies and directorates have also been preparing. Endangered species and precious wildlife have been relocated from Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. ICON water have pumped three days of water supplies into the city reservoirs. Water has been transferred to dams away from the fire impacted areas. Evacuation centres are being planned to stand up as required.

I have a full confidence in the ability of the ESA, ACT Police, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the ACT Government to protect lives and property and support our community.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said that the preparation work done by the ESA, ACT Police and the ADF in recent days will help keep Canberrans safe in the case of an extreme emergency.

“We have had a lot of ESA staff, volunteers and ADF personnel out in our community in recent days to talk to Canberrans about their Bushfire Survival Plans. I know this has been very helpful for many residents concerned by the Orroral Valley fire burning in the Namadgi National Park,” Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said.

“Canberrans should expect a lot of activity in the next few days as our Emergency Services agencies respond to this bushfire risk. We are asking people to support these agencies as they work to ensure the safety of our community.”

“A lot of planning has been done to try and protect Canberra homes if required. We are asking the community to remain vigilant and to listen to the advice of emergency personnel.”

The ESA uses a range of tools to communicate with the community during a State of Emergency. Please use the following tools to stay up to date on the State of Emergency:

- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Mick Gentleman, MLA | Media Releases

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