New South Wales, February 2019

Tingha Plateau fire, 2019

Quick Statistics

14 Homes Destroyed

Sunday 10 February, NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) crews were alerted to and responded to a smoke sighting about 15 kilometres south-southwest of Inverell. The Tingha Plateau fire had started in inaccessible terrain approximately four kilometres east of Lake Copeton the previous night following dry lightning.

Two days later on 12 February, a bushfire emergency and a state-wide total fire ban was declared as 33 bush and grass fires, nine of them not yet contained, burned across NSW. During that morning, the Tingha Plateau fire spread rapidly east, pushed by strong, gusty westerly winds. Several roads were closed to protect the public and assist firefighting efforts.

By 2.00pm, the fire had crossed Thunderbolts Way and emergency warnings were issued to residents in the Lake Copeton and Tingha areas, encouraging them to seek shelter as the fire front arrived. NSW RFS crews focussed on protecting people and properties as the fire spread rapidly south-east. By 7.00pm, evacuation centres for those fleeing the fire had been established. 

By late morning the following day, the fire had increased to 5,600 hectares and emergency warnings were issued for several isolated communities as fire activity increased during the day. On the same day, the fire was declared a disaster, making disaster assistance available to affected communities in the Inverell local government area through joint Commonwealth– State disaster recovery funding arrangements.

The fire was contained on 17 February. On 20 February, the bushfire emergency was revoked and the Tingha Plateau fire was officially declared out on 6 March. Despite firefighters’ efforts, the fire had destroyed 14 homes and more than 40 outbuildings. Nineteen other homes and outbuildings had been damaged and 23,528 hectares had been burned. However, no lives were lost during the fire and more than 440 homes and outbuildings had been saved.


This incident was included in the Major Incidents Report 2018-19 (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, 2019). See the report for further information on the incident. The report acknowledges the following sources:

NSW Rural Fire Service, Bureau of Meteorology, ABC News, Inverell Times.