On Sunday 18 March 2018, a bushfire began in the locality of Reedy Swamp, near Tarraganda, which spread east towards Tathra. By the evening the fire had reached the town, destroying homes and blocking one of only two roads out of the town. Around 35 homes had been damaged or destroyed, by that point, as well as a local school. An emergency evacuation centre for people affected by the fire was set up at the Bega Showgrounds.
On 19 March (Monday), multiple schools in the area were closed due to students and staff being affected by the fire. It is understood that as of 10:40pm on the 18th 1,000 hectares had been burnt. By the morning of 19 March up to 70 buildings were believed to have been lost, and more than 200 people sought shelter at the Bega evacuation centre. On the afternoon of the 19th, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) confirmed that 69 homes were destroyed and 39 were damaged, and 398 houses were saved or untouched. The RFS has stated that the total number of buildings destroyed is most likely ‘seventy-plus’. On Monday, in response to the disaster, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Bega MP Andrew Constance and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull all visited Tathra, and met with evacuated people at the Bega Showgrounds.
Establishing the full depth of the recovery effort needs for the Tathra community after the recent bush fires is ongoing. Liaison efforts by the ORT have included strong engagement with both State and Local Government authorities in addition to emergency services. ORT personnel have conducted a number of meetings with key personnel on the ground to gauge the effect of the bushfire, the likely recovery phase concept and any opportunities for DRA to assist.