The scene from Canberra on the 18th was of two large black convection columns. With their clouds they reached upwards to a massive 15 km in height. A tornadic wind was spawned between the columns which flattened trees and tore away their branches. It travelled 17 km, cutting a swathe 100- 200 m wide to the suburbs of Canberra. The smoke eventually reached New Zealand.
A Total Fire Ban was still in force, weather conditions were extreme and firefighting had ceased and been replaced by property protection. A request was made to Emergency Management Australia for more resources from the military and the NSW Ambulance Service was also assisting. The fires had reached the Tidbinbilla and Naas Valleys overnight. The eastern flank of the McIntyres Fire continued to move towards the ACT, crossing Mountain Creek Road. Other containment lines were also breached.
Fires progress to 17 January 2003
The Bendora Fire joined the McIntyres Fire at Piccadilly Circus and jumped containment lines. The Broken Cart Fire burnt over Mt Franklin and joined the Bendora and Stockyard fires. The fires continued east on a 50-km front and by afternoon had hit the suburban fringe.
The fire reached the edge of the suburbs soon after 3pm. In the end about 503 urban and rural houses were burnt down, roads and bridges damaged, power poles set ablaze, water and sewage infrastructure affected, government depots lost, fire stations damaged, a church razed and the telescopes of the Mt Stromlo Observatory ruined.
Fires progress on the 18 January 2003
Last updated 4 November 2014