Mirador access questions

One of the gates in 2018.

One of the gates in 2018.

This weekend sees a call to action by the Rural Fire Service (RFS) to "Get Ready" for the bushfire season ahead, after more than 2700 bush and grass fires have ignited already across NSW. They are statistics that will likely focus the attention of Mirador residents on the emergency access between Camilla Court and Berrambool.

Mirador Drive is the only way in and out of the rapidly expanding estate apart from the dirt track with two locked gates between Camilla Court and Berrambool. There is a group of residents concerned the track may be their only way out in the event of a fire and would like to see the link opened.

However there is another group, those living in Camilla Court, who want the link to remain closed unless there is an emergency, because it would encourage more traffic into their road.

Council is responsible for the road and has said that emergency services all hold keys to the two locked gates.

However, the News Weekly understands that the premise on which the link would be used, is for emergency vehicles to access Mirador from Berrambool, not for residential traffic to leave. This may be a contributing factor to the state of the track, which is graded to allow the passage of fire trucks.

Virginia Stephens was keen to campaign for the link to be open permanently but now believes that might be "asking too much because there are too many people who don't want it".

"The main thing is the assurance that the gates would be unlocked in times of crisis. But we want to know who opens them and who decides it is a crisis," Ms Stephens said.

But Ross Emerson has lived in Camilla Court for 21 years and said he doesn't want to see the gates permanently open and cars coming through to an area where children play and the school bus stops.

"It's an emergency access for a fire vehicle. In the event of a fire it's not going to be like an atomic bomb with no warning," he said. He believes there would be sufficient warning for people to get out via Mirador Drive.

RFS community liaison officer said that as Mirador was a new estate, the homes are built to a specific fire resistant standard.

"The homes here have been designed to minimise ember attack and because they're built to a standard, each house should protect the next," he said

He added that a lot of Mirador homes were "really very defendable" depending on people's capability. But he emphasised that people needed to have a plan. Merimbula RFS spokesman Chris Nicholls said people tended not to want to leave until they have to or see flames and by then it was too late.

He said making a plan and sticking to it meant that once a certain level of fire danger was reached, residents left.

"It's not like we don't know what the level is going to be, it's announced the day before and if you have decided not to stay when it's severe (as it was the day the fires hit Tathra) then you know you have to leave some 12 hours beforehand," Mr Nicholls said.

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