The Eurobodalla area has experienced high intensity wildfire over large areas on a number of occasions in the last 100 years. At least eleven devastating fires have occurred in the area.
The fires of 1939 and 1952 are generally regarded as having been the most widespread, but those of 1927-28, 1953 and 1968, did incalculable damage over more localised areas. The Malua Bay brigade area was not spared these fires but low populations at the time meant minimal damage to homes and properties.
Bushfire has always been a threat to the Brigade area but it is the big fires which have to be anticipated. In 1994, a wildfire from the Buckenbowra area quickly ran east and almost made it to Lilli Pilli beach. Property damage in the Brigade area was mostly peripheral to urban infrastructure. But it was a sign of things to come.
In 2019/2020, a particularly deep drought, high forest fuel loads and prolonged adverse weather allowed high intensity fire to burn most of the hinterland of the NSW east coast, including all the forested areas west of Malua Bay and to almost Braidwood.
In the early morning of 31st December 2019, New Year's Eve, a fast moving and intense bushfire from the west engulfed the coastal communities from Batemans Bay to Broulee. In places, it reached the Pacific Ocean. About 2,000 people sought refuge on the Malua Bay Beach Reserve.
Approximately 85% of the Malua Bay Brigade area burnt in a few hours. About 150 houses, and numerous other buildings, were lost. North Rosedale and parts of Malua Bay around Sylvan Street were hit very hard. Rural residential properties on Dunns Creek Road, Ridge Road and Burri Road suffered heavy losses. The Malua Bay Bowling Club was destroyed.
Property loss and damage was severe but, remarkably, there was no loss of life.
The fires were as bad as it can possibly get. It was a fire season many in the community, and the Malua Bay Brigade members, will never forget.