South Coast fire: Princes Highway reopens as conditions ease for firefighters

Crews battling the Currowan bushfire on the South Coast say they are bracing for another challenging day but conditions aren't expected to be as severe as first forecast.

The Rural Fire Service warned people returning to areas around the Currowan fire that falling trees remain a real hazard. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The Rural Fire Service warned people returning to areas around the Currowan fire that falling trees remain a real hazard. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Light southerly winds have been felt along the fireground near the coast, which crews say are working in firefighters' favour.

The fire remains at advice level and has burnt more than 80,000 hectares.

Firefighters have been working on containing the fire to the west near the Budawang National Park and Mongarlowe.

Crews are carrying out tactical backburning to prevent the fire spreading further.

A total fire ban has been enforced in the Shoalhaven area, along with the Southern Ranges and the ACT for Tuesday.

More than 200 firefighters are battling the blaze on Tuesday along with 80 firefighting appliances such as large trucks and bulldozers.

The Princes Highway reopened on Monday night after eight days of being closed due to the fire.

Poor visibility from the Currowan fire as the Princes highway reopens between Batemans Bay and Ulladulla. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Poor visibility from the Currowan fire as the Princes highway reopens between Batemans Bay and Ulladulla. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Batemans Bay had been largely cut off by the closure of both the Kings and Princes Highway.

NSW Rural Fire Service public liaison officer Marty Webster said the town had been running low on fuel.

"We ran a convoy of fuel along the Princes Highway [on Monday morning] to keep Batemans Bay topped up," Mr Webster said.

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Supermarkets had been running low on supplies, with shipments delayed as trucks struggled to get through.

But while the Princes Highway is now open, the NSW Rural Fire Service has warned residents to steer clear of the many feeder roads which are yet to reopen.

Mr Webster said people were taking a "significant risk" by ignoring road blocks.

"We recognise it's important for people's recovery to get back in as quickly as possible and we're taking every effort we can can to enable that need to be done in a safe fashion," Mr Webster said.

The fire has burnt more than 80,000 hectares. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The fire has burnt more than 80,000 hectares. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The highway had been closed for more than a week due to the fire conditions and the risk of large trees falling onto the road.

Work by fire crews have allowed for dangerous trees to be removed from the area.

Mr Webster said some of the roads that remained shut were so hazardous, they weren't even sending their own people in unless they were in heavy machinery.

"The focus has been trying to get feeder roads [west of the Princes Highway] clear and safe. The big issue has been fallen trees, it's been relentless. We're taking a lot of caution going in ourselves."

There's also concern about many of the timber bridges on those feeder roads.

"Lots of timber bridges on the western side need to be reassessed," Mr Webster said.

A house in Lake Tabourie was fortunate to have survived Thursday's bushfire. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

A house in Lake Tabourie was fortunate to have survived Thursday's bushfire. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

"Normally timber bridges would have water underneath them but because of the dry conditions there's been a build up of debris so we need to make sure they're safe."

Eleven dwellings have been destroyed in the fire, along with more than 50 sheds.

Mr Webster said building assessment teams had worked through 50 per cent of the houses in the area, although there are hundreds of homes yet to be examined.

"Crews will be back out there again on Tuesday to make sure that sites are safe and they've got a huge task ahead of them," he said.

Weather conditions are set to vary across the fireground, ranging in temperature from the low 20s along the coast to the high 30s to the west of the blaze.

This story Princes Highway reopens to traffic as South Coast fire conditions ease first appeared on The Canberra Times.