ACT News

Battle continues at Bungendore for RFS crews

More than 1100 hectares of land has been burnt outside Bungendore as crews continue to battle a bushfire off the Kings Highway.

Crews are now backburning and putting in containment lines near Bungendore, Rural Fire Service incident controller Tim Carroll said.

Crews work to contain fires near Bungendore.
Crews work to contain fires near Bungendore. Photo: Rohan Thomson

“It’s been controlled, but we’re not calling to contained just yet,” he said.

Mr Carroll said the Kings Highway remained closed as crews deal with burnt trees, a number of which have fallen onto the road.

“We’re working to get the highway open as quickly as possible,” he said.

“We hope it could be as early as this afternoon.”

As of 6am on Wednesday, the fire had torn through 1123 hectares of land with a burnt perimeter of 17km, Rural Fire Service member Chris Powell said.

Mr Powell said crews had managed to stop the eastern edge of the fire along Mulloon Creek.

Burnt land on Hazeldell Rd, near Bungendore.
Burnt land on Hazeldell Rd, near Bungendore. Photo: Rohan Thomson

“It’s not a secure edge, but that’s what we’re working to at the moment,” he said,

The fire has been classified as ‘watch and act’ on the RFS website, which stated that crews had previously been battling wind gusts of more than 100 kilometres per hour.

Lewis Conn and Chris Powell discuss the fires at the Kings Highway near Bungendore.
Lewis Conn and Chris Powell discuss the fires at the Kings Highway near Bungendore. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Mr Powell said there had no known property loss across approximately 30 homes in the area.

“Some residents decided to leave, some decided to stay and defend,” he said.

The scene from the Kings Highway. Crews work to contain fires near Bungendore.
The scene from the Kings Highway. Crews work to contain fires near Bungendore. Photo: Rohan Thomson

“They worked with the bushfire brigade units and the fire brigade units. We had all agencies here.”

Mr Powell said ground crews also received assistance from air crews towards the end of Tuesday.

Sue and Ulli Tuisk outside their home on Hazeldell Rd, near Bungendore, which they were very lucky to save from bush ...
Sue and Ulli Tuisk outside their home on Hazeldell Rd, near Bungendore, which they were very lucky to save from bush fires last night. Photo: Rohan Thomson

“But we didn’t have them here for long enough, unfortunately,” he said.

With flames little more than 100 metres from their front door on Tuesday, Ulli and Sue Tuisk are still in shock that their home survived the night.

Sue and Ulli Tuisk outside their home on Hazeldell Rd, near Bungendore, which they were very lucky to save last night.
Sue and Ulli Tuisk outside their home on Hazeldell Rd, near Bungendore, which they were very lucky to save last night. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The couple had been preparing their Hazeldell Road property for the approaching bushfire near Bungendore all day, but Mr Tuisk said the fire got too close to consider staying.

“The fire just came over the hill and we thought we’d have to go,” he said.

“We were just going out the gate when the first fire truck turned up.”

The couple were out until 2.30am, fighting alongside crews to save the historic homestead from the 1840s.

Mr Tuisk said they had rigged up a sprinkler system on the roof, running for the past two days and coating the homestead in a “blanket of water”.

But even their careful preparation didn’t stop the fear as the fire approached.

“The flame came through as a grassfire around 6pm,” he said.

“We thought it had finished then the real fire came over the hill. The trees were burning. It was the real scary one.

“The smoke was so much, you could barely see past the front hedge. It was all just smoke, with everything red behind it.”

To their knowledge, the pair haven’t lost any stock and Mr Tuisk even credits their cattle with helping out.

“They were one of the things that saved us,” he said.

“We put stock in along the road and they ate it completely down.”

Hours later, the couple were still mopping up around the property, which looked out on a smouldering paddock.

For Mrs Tuisk, who was still scrubbing the black ash from her skin, the experience was exhausting.

“It’s something you never want to go through again,” she said.