/Tourists stranded in bushfire-ravaged Mallacoota are about to be freed by Navy

Tourists stranded in bushfire-ravaged Mallacoota are about to be freed by Navy

A mass evacuation is underway in Mallacoota where more than 4,000 locals and holidaymakers have been stranded since the devastating bushfires on New Year’s Eve.

The first evacuees boarded the Navy ship, the MV Sycamore, from the fire ravaged coastal town at 8.40am on Friday – just 24 hours before catastrophic weather conditions are forecast to whip up more blazes. 

About 100 people, including families with small children, were seen wearing masks and carrying just a few personal items as they were escorted by military personnel to the wharf early in the morning. Some even managed to save their pets, which were along for the journey too.

The voyage to Western Port in southern Victoria, which is expected to take 20 hours, comes as thousands of people spent four days in limbo after being told it was too dangerous to leave the seaside town following the bushfires on Tuesday.

Those fires have claimed at least two lives, taking the death toll for Australia’s catastrophic fire season to 18 -however, there are fears that will only increase as at least 28 people are still missing in East Gippsland.

Premier Daniel Andrews said there were ‘significant concerns’ for unaccounted residents scattered across small communities in the region. 

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Weak or vulnerable people will be given first priority, and the Navy vowed to try to keep family units together

Weak or vulnerable people will be given first priority, and the Navy vowed to try to keep family units together

Weak or vulnerable people will be given first priority, and the Navy vowed to try to keep family units together

A boarder collie named Millie peers over the edge of a boat headed to a Navy ship, which will take evacuees to Western Port in southern Victoria

A boarder collie named Millie peers over the edge of a boat headed to a Navy ship, which will take evacuees to Western Port in southern Victoria

A boarder collie named Millie peers over the edge of a boat headed to a Navy ship, which will take evacuees to Western Port in southern Victoria

A woman carries her small pink suitcase on to a military boat as she prepares to leave Mallacoota on Friday morning

A woman carries her small pink suitcase on to a military boat as she prepares to leave Mallacoota on Friday morning

A woman carries her small pink suitcase on to a military boat as she prepares to leave Mallacoota on Friday morning

A smoke haze covered the coastal town as hundreds of people boarded boats headed for military ships as part of the evacuation on Friday

A smoke haze covered the coastal town as hundreds of people boarded boats headed for military ships as part of the evacuation on Friday

A smoke haze covered the coastal town as hundreds of people boarded boats headed for military ships as part of the evacuation on Friday

People begin leaving Mallacoota wharf after the devastating bushfires on New Year's Eve. They are part of one of the biggest evacuations Australia has ever seen

People begin leaving Mallacoota wharf after the devastating bushfires on New Year's Eve. They are part of one of the biggest evacuations Australia has ever seen

People begin leaving Mallacoota wharf after the devastating bushfires on New Year’s Eve. They are part of one of the biggest evacuations Australia has ever seen 

About 100 people have already left Mallacoota but thousands remain in the small coastal town as they await for more boats to ferry them to the Navy ships

About 100 people have already left Mallacoota but thousands remain in the small coastal town as they await for more boats to ferry them to the Navy ships

About 100 people have already left Mallacoota but thousands remain in the small coastal town as they await for more boats to ferry them to the Navy ships

‘We have grave fears for the safety and wellbeing of those 28 people who cannot be located,’ Mr Andrews told reporters on Friday.

How the evacuation will unfold:  

People will be evacuated on the HMAS Choules and the MV Sycamore from Friday morning

They will board smaller military boats  before being take to the ships

The ships will be able to carry up to 1000 people each per voyage

Two journeys are planned but a third might be needed

School aged children will be able to leave on the ship but families with babies and toddlers will have to be flown out

HMAS Choules will most likely sail to Western Port in southern Victoria

Having said that, though, these numbers will move around. A number of people who were part of the original 17 (missing people) were located yesterday.’

A state of disaster has been declared, with residents in the northeast Walwa told to get out before it’s too late.

These powers have never been used before and allow authorities to compel people to leave.

Residents in northeastern communities including Biggara, Tintaldra, Towong, Towong Upper, Walwa, Nariel Valley, Lucyvale, Berringama,Koetong, Shelley and Burrowye are being ordered to get out.

‘If you can leave, you must leave. That’s the only safe thing for you, your family and, indeed, for others who may be called to your assistance,’ the premier told reporters on Friday.

‘We cannot guarantee your safety.’

More than 780,000 hectares have been razed by about 50 fires burning in the state’s east and northeast.

The state is bracing for the worst as weather conditions are expected to create more blazes in the region with temperatures expected to reach a scorching 46C. 

On Thursday night residents in Mallacoota scrambled to check the list to see if they would be part of the Navy’s first evacuation trip, carrying 963 passengers to safety. 

The ship has a few hundred beds but many of the evacuees will spend the majority of the 20 hour journey on the deck

The ship has a few hundred beds but many of the evacuees will spend the majority of the 20 hour journey on the deck

The ship has a few hundred beds but many of the evacuees will spend the majority of the 20 hour journey on the deck

Evacuees make their way to one of two military ships which will be taking bushfire victims in the small coastal town of Mallacoota to Western Port in southern Victoria

Evacuees make their way to one of two military ships which will be taking bushfire victims in the small coastal town of Mallacoota to Western Port in southern Victoria

Evacuees make their way to one of two military ships which will be taking bushfire victims in the small coastal town of Mallacoota to Western Port in southern Victoria

A woman and her dachshund prepare to board a boat at Mallacoota Wharf on Friday morning after waiting for days

A woman and her dachshund prepare to board a boat at Mallacoota Wharf on Friday morning after waiting for days

A woman and her dachshund prepare to board a boat at Mallacoota Wharf on Friday morning after waiting for days 

Weak or vulnerable people were given priority, but the Navy vowed to try to keep family units together. 

About 50 people were flown out of the town on Thursday night. 

Evacuees boarded the military vehicles, known as a ‘duck’ which can be used on land and sea, before being taken aboard Navy ships HMAS Choules and the MV Sycamore. 

The two ships can carry about 800 people at a time. The HMAS Choules may make a second journey if it is needed.

The military vessel initially hoped to remove some of the most vulnerable people – particularly those suffering with asthma – on Thursday.

But thick smoke made the task virtually impossible.  

‘Excuse the language but conditions are sh**house off the coast of Mallacoota,’ Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester tweeted.

Dead animals have been seen scattered across beaches across East Gippsland after the catastrophic bushfires

Dead animals have been seen scattered across beaches across East Gippsland after the catastrophic bushfires

Dead animals have been seen scattered across beaches across East Gippsland after the catastrophic bushfires

A dead animal was among dozens that had washed up on Bastion Point Beach on Thursday afternoon after the bushfires this week

A dead animal was among dozens that had washed up on Bastion Point Beach on Thursday afternoon after the bushfires this week

A dead animal was among dozens that had washed up on Bastion Point Beach on Thursday afternoon after the bushfires this week

Evacuees board a small boat off the Mallacoota wharf as they make their way to military ships for the first voyage to Western Port in southern Victoria

Evacuees board a small boat off the Mallacoota wharf as they make their way to military ships for the first voyage to Western Port in southern Victoria

Evacuees board a small boat off the Mallacoota wharf as they make their way to military ships for the first voyage to Western Port in southern Victoria

The military vessel initially hoped to remove some of the most vulnerable people - particularly those suffering with asthma - on Thursday

The military vessel initially hoped to remove some of the most vulnerable people - particularly those suffering with asthma - on Thursday

The military vessel initially hoped to remove some of the most vulnerable people – particularly those suffering with asthma – on Thursday

A Mother trapped in Mallacoota breaks down in tears as she holds her toddler in her arms as HMAS Choules prepares to get thousands of tourists away from bushfire ravaged coastline

A Mother trapped in Mallacoota breaks down in tears as she holds her toddler in her arms as HMAS Choules prepares to get thousands of tourists away from bushfire ravaged coastline

A Mother trapped in Mallacoota breaks down in tears as she holds her toddler in her arms as HMAS Choules prepares to get thousands of tourists away from bushfire ravaged coastline

Alison Cukier and Craig Thorpe, from Montmorency, chose to flee the small town and endure the likely long and uncomfortable journey because of their 10-year-old child.

‘When you have kids here you want to get out for health reasons,’ they told the Daily Telegraph. 

Some have said they would prefer to stay behind and wait for roads to reopen to transport their cars, caravans and boats, but they’ve been warned it could be weeks before they get the opportunity to leave.

Smoky conditions have stopped the military from flying in and rescuing people.

The sky in Mallacoota as fires approached on New Years Eve turned an apocalyptic red colour. People were forced to flee to the beach

The sky in Mallacoota as fires approached on New Years Eve turned an apocalyptic red colour. People were forced to flee to the beach

The sky in Mallacoota as fires approached on New Years Eve turned an apocalyptic red colour. People were forced to flee to the beach

Bushfires are seen between the towns of Orbost and Lakes Entrance in east Gippsland on January 02

Bushfires are seen between the towns of Orbost and Lakes Entrance in east Gippsland on January 02

Crews monitor fires and begin back burns in East Gippsland

Crews monitor fires and begin back burns in East Gippsland

Bushfires are seen between the towns of Orbost and Lakes Entrance in East Gippsland on January 02 while crews monitor fires and begin back burns

Authorities are desperate to evacuate as many people as possible from danger areas before horror conditions escalate again on Saturday. 

‘We have a small window of opportunity,’ Assistant Emergency Services Commissioner Deb Abbott told reporters on Thursday.

‘It’s a window of opportunity for those people to leave now and we want them to leave now.

‘These fires have already caused significant damage. They have caused significant loss and our community needs to act now.’ 

However, the roads were also packed with fleeing holidaymakers trying to escape before the 46C weather hits. Thousands spent Thursday night sleeping on the road after Princes Highway, on the NSW south coast, was closed overnight. 

Some had camping chairs, while others laid out bedding as they awaited their freedom.  

Evacuees have been waiting patiently near the water in Mallacoota since they were first pushed toward the water on NYE

Evacuees have been waiting patiently near the water in Mallacoota since they were first pushed toward the water on NYE

Evacuees have been waiting patiently near the water in Mallacoota since they were first pushed toward the water on NYE

Tourists and residents have been told to evacuate a 250km stretch of the New South Wales south coast (pictured) as devastating bushfires threaten the area, along with an area of the Shoalhaven between Burrill Lake north and Nowra

Tourists and residents have been told to evacuate a 250km stretch of the New South Wales south coast (pictured) as devastating bushfires threaten the area, along with an area of the Shoalhaven between Burrill Lake north and Nowra

Tourists and residents have been told to evacuate a 250km stretch of the New South Wales south coast (pictured) as devastating bushfires threaten the area, along with an area of the Shoalhaven between Burrill Lake north and Nowra 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has asked for people to be patient as the evacuation process gets underway.

‘I know you can have kids in the car and there is anxiety and there is stress and the traffic is not moving quickly but the best thing to do — the best thing that helps those out there volunteering, out there trying to restore some order to these situations — is for everyone to be patient.’

Doctors have declared the smoke in the area an ‘extreme health hazard’. Medical resources have also dwindled since roads were cut, but some supplies were brought in by boat. 

A supplied image obtained Thursday, January 2, 2020 shows MV Sycamore sailing from HMAS Waterhen to assist in bushfire relief efforts in Victoria

A supplied image obtained Thursday, January 2, 2020 shows MV Sycamore sailing from HMAS Waterhen to assist in bushfire relief efforts in Victoria

A supplied image obtained Thursday, January 2, 2020 shows MV Sycamore sailing from HMAS Waterhen to assist in bushfire relief efforts in Victoria

Residents are pictured on the wharf at Mallacoota about 10.30am on Tuesday; Ms Marion's home was spared from the blaze but aerial footage on Wednesday showed multiple homes destroyed by the blaze

Residents are pictured on the wharf at Mallacoota about 10.30am on Tuesday; Ms Marion's home was spared from the blaze but aerial footage on Wednesday showed multiple homes destroyed by the blaze

Residents are pictured on the wharf at Mallacoota about 10.30am on Tuesday; Ms Marion’s home was spared from the blaze but aerial footage on Wednesday showed multiple homes destroyed by the blaze

A supplied image obtained Thursday, January 2, 2020 shows HMAS Choules departing from Fleet Base East Kuttabul to assist in bushfire relief efforts in Victoria

A supplied image obtained Thursday, January 2, 2020 shows HMAS Choules departing from Fleet Base East Kuttabul to assist in bushfire relief efforts in Victoria

A supplied image obtained Thursday, January 2, 2020 shows HMAS Choules departing from Fleet Base East Kuttabul to assist in bushfire relief efforts in Victoria

Firefighters are seen struggling against the strong winds which are blowing embers on them in an effort to secure houses near bushfires on Tuesday

Firefighters are seen struggling against the strong winds which are blowing embers on them in an effort to secure houses near bushfires on Tuesday

Firefighters are seen struggling against the strong winds which are blowing embers on them in an effort to secure houses near bushfires on Tuesday

The treatment was required primarily for children and the vulnerable who had spent days breathing in potentially toxic smoke and pollution from the approaching blazes.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said those people also took priority when planning the initial evacuation mission.

‘They will pick up any sick or vulnerable people who need to leave and undertake more re-supply missions as the day continues,’ Mr Chester said.

‘We will have additional heavy lift helicopters in the region helping out from tomorrow to replenish supplies in isolated areas.

Commanding Officer HMAS Choules, Commander Scott Houlihan addresses a community meeting in Mallacoota, Victoria where the public was informed of the ADF's evacuation plan

Commanding Officer HMAS Choules, Commander Scott Houlihan addresses a community meeting in Mallacoota, Victoria where the public was informed of the ADF's evacuation plan

Commanding Officer HMAS Choules, Commander Scott Houlihan addresses a community meeting in Mallacoota, Victoria where the public was informed of the ADF’s evacuation plan

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has commenced Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20 and has stood up Joint Task Forces in New South Wales and Victoria

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has commenced Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20 and has stood up Joint Task Forces in New South Wales and Victoria

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has commenced Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20 and has stood up Joint Task Forces in New South Wales and Victoria

Children under school age will need to be evacuated via air. Only people who are healthy and able-bodied enough to climb up stairs on the ship and withstand ‘difficult’ conditions will be able to board.

There will be ‘a few hundred beds’ on board the ship, but people should be prepared to spend much of the 20 hour trip sitting on the outer deck.  

There are fears the water has been contaminated and food and fuel supplies have dwindled in the small town. Roads in and out of town are not predicted to open again for weeks. 

The HMAS Choules and the MV Sycamore, a defence contracted training vessel, had begun bringing supplies to those in need on Thursday morning.

In this photo provided by the Australian Defence Force, a tender from HMAS Choules motors through smoke haze off the coast of Mallacoota

In this photo provided by the Australian Defence Force, a tender from HMAS Choules motors through smoke haze off the coast of Mallacoota

In this photo provided by the Australian Defence Force, a tender from HMAS Choules motors through smoke haze off the coast of Mallacoota

HMAS Choules' Fast Recovery Craft departs the ship on her way to Mallacoota, Victoria to meet local authorities in preparation to conduct an evacuation

HMAS Choules' Fast Recovery Craft departs the ship on her way to Mallacoota, Victoria to meet local authorities in preparation to conduct an evacuation

HMAS Choules’ Fast Recovery Craft departs the ship on her way to Mallacoota, Victoria to meet local authorities in preparation to conduct an evacuation

HMAS Choules' Fast Recovery Craft embarks personnel in order to drop them ashore in Mallacoota, Victoria to meet local authories in preparation to conduct an evacuation

HMAS Choules' Fast Recovery Craft embarks personnel in order to drop them ashore in Mallacoota, Victoria to meet local authories in preparation to conduct an evacuation

HMAS Choules’ Fast Recovery Craft embarks personnel in order to drop them ashore in Mallacoota, Victoria to meet local authories in preparation to conduct an evacuation

Troops in helicopters also appeared on Thursday afternoon, bringing with them food, water, fuel and medical supplies for people who are trapped.

Their arrival came as a woman broke down in tears in front of reporters on Thursday when asked to discuss the fires.

The woman welled up while holding her son and trying to protect his face from the smoke on a pier waiting for assistance from the military ships.

She stepped away from cameras before quickly shaking her head no when asked if her own home had been affected.  

HMAS Choules' enhanced medical team (pictured) disembarks a MRH-90 Taipan maritime support helicopter as the ship prepares to provide support to the communities affected by bushfires

HMAS Choules' enhanced medical team (pictured) disembarks a MRH-90 Taipan maritime support helicopter as the ship prepares to provide support to the communities affected by bushfires

HMAS Choules’ enhanced medical team (pictured) disembarks a MRH-90 Taipan maritime support helicopter as the ship prepares to provide support to the communities affected by bushfires

VICTORIA DECLARES A STATE OF DISASTER FOR FIRE-AFFECTED REGIONS

Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to Jilly Brown, who lost her 120 year old Sarsfeild Home and Accomodation business, at the Bairnsdale relief and co-ordination Centre in Bairnsdale, Victoria

Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to Jilly Brown, who lost her 120 year old Sarsfeild Home and Accomodation business, at the Bairnsdale relief and co-ordination Centre in Bairnsdale, Victoria

Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to Jilly Brown, who lost her 120 year old Sarsfeild Home and Accomodation business, at the Bairnsdale relief and co-ordination Centre in Bairnsdale, Victoria

By AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATED PRESS

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew on Thursday revealed a second death from bushfires ravaging the state while announcing a state of disaster has been declared for six local government areas and three alpine resorts.

The declaration includes powers introduced in the aftermath of devastating 2009 blazes which have never been used before, including compelling people to evacuate.

Mr Andrews said they will send a powerful message to people in fire areas.

‘If you can leave, you must leave. If you don’t, we simply cannot guarantee your safety,’ he said.

‘You may well find yourself isolated and cut off for an extended period of time after fire activity.’

Areas covered by the declaration, which has been made for seven days, are East Gippsland Shire, Mansfield Shire, Wellington Shire, Wangaratta Rural Shire, Towong Shire and Alpine Shire.

Mount Butler, Mount Hotham and the Mount Stirling Alpine Resorts are also covered.

More than 50 fires were raging across the state on Thursday, with the worst burning predominantly in East Gippsland and the alpine region.

Crews monitor fires and begin back burns between the towns of Orbost and Lakes Entrance in east Gippsland on January 2

Crews monitor fires and begin back burns between the towns of Orbost and Lakes Entrance in east Gippsland on January 2

Crews monitor fires and begin back burns between the towns of Orbost and Lakes Entrance in east Gippsland on January 2

Residents of those areas have been told they should leave, before strong winds and temperatures above 40C forecast for some areas on Saturday.

‘We have a small window of opportunity,’ Assistant Emergency Services Commissioner Deb Abbott told reporters on Thursday.

‘It’s a window of opportunity for those people to leave now and we want them to leave now.’

Though Saturday will bring the most bushfire risk, conditions will deteriorate from Friday, with authorities declared a total fire ban on Friday across East Gippsland and the Wimmera, North East and South West regions.

Temperatures are expected to peak in the high 20s and winds will be light, but that does not rule out more fire danger.

‘There can be significant fire activity even when conditions are fairly light in terms of winds,’ Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Tom Delamotte told AAP.

The military has arrived to provide relief and resources for fire victims across East Gippsland, as well as evacuating people from Mallacoota.

About 24 communities are isolated and reaching them to deliver supplies has been difficult.

Mr Andrews said Victoria will call on the military to provide more assistance such as tenting.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal government was offering any assistance requested.

‘Our task has been to fully support and provide whatever assistance is necessary through all the various agencies of the Commonwealth,’ he told reporters in Sydney.

More than 50 fires were raging across the state on Thursday, with the worst burning predominantly in East Gippsland and the alpine region

More than 50 fires were raging across the state on Thursday, with the worst burning predominantly in East Gippsland and the alpine region

More than 50 fires were raging across the state on Thursday, with the worst burning predominantly in East Gippsland and the alpine region

‘The provision of disaster payments that have now exceeded some more than $21 million in New South Wales alone and we expect more of that to continue in Victoria as the full devastation of the fires there becomes more evident.’

The leader will visit East Gippsland on Friday.

Ahead of midnight on Thursday, warning levels for all Victorian fires were sitting no higher than a ‘watch and act’ alert.

But smoky conditions have at times stopped flights to rescue people, deliver supplies and rotate firefighters.

Authorities are also concerned a fire at Corryong in Victoria’s northeast could merge with another on NSW’s southern border.

Corryong residents are being doorknocked and told to leave the region before the weekend.

A series of community meetings were being held on Thursday in Mallacoota, where 3000 to 4000 people remain stranded.

The navy will start evacuating Mallacoota on Friday morning, with about 1000 people to leave.

So far the fires have burnt more than 784,000 hectares in Victoria.

People panic and grab fuel and shopping supplies during bush fire crisis on the south coast in Batemans Bay

People panic and grab fuel and shopping supplies during bush fire crisis on the south coast in Batemans Bay

People panic and grab fuel and shopping supplies during bush fire crisis on the south coast in Batemans Bay

Batemans Bay residents and holiday makers pictured lining up for supplies at a local IGA supermarket

Batemans Bay residents and holiday makers pictured lining up for supplies at a local IGA supermarket

Batemans Bay residents and holiday makers pictured lining up for supplies at a local IGA supermarket

Residents scramble for necessities at their local IGA supermarket in Batemans Bay

Residents scramble for necessities at their local IGA supermarket in Batemans Bay

People line up to grab a few supplies from their local IGA after it closed down following the bushfires

People line up to grab a few supplies from their local IGA after it closed down following the bushfires

Batemans Bay residents and holiday makers pictured lining up for supplies at a local IGA supermarket

BUSHFIRE CRISIS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

 NSW

WHERE ARE THE NSW BUSHFIRES?

More than 110 blazes continue to burn across NSW on Thursday afternoon, with more than 50 burning out of control.

There were three fires burning at a ‘watch and act’ level as of 6pm.

These were the 260,000-hectare Currowan fire on the south coast, the 130,000ha Dunns Road fire in the Snowy Valleys and the 105,000ha Green Valley fire east of Albury.

HOW MANY HAVE DIED?

Seven people have perished since Monday evening, taking the NSW bushfire death toll since July to 15. That includes three firefighters.

A 72-year-old man remains missing at Belowra, west of Narooma, but an 81-year-old woman who was missing in Conjola Park has been located safe and well.

HOW MANY HOMES HAVE BEEN LOST?

At least 382 homes have been destroyed on the south coast since New Year’s Eve. The number will increase as damage assessment teams access hard-to-reach areas.

Some 1298 homes, 85 facilities and 2218 outbuildings such as sheds have been confirmed destroyed across NSW since July.

THE WARNINGS

No total fire bans are in place on Thursday but a statewide total fire ban has been declared for Friday and Saturday.

People near Batlow have been asked to leave by Thursday night while holiday-makers in the alps and between Nowra and the Victorian border should be out by Friday night.

Across the border, Victorian authorities want tourists and locals to leave the state’s alpine and East Gippsland regions by Thursday.

THE FORECAST

Fire weather eased on Thursday, allowing firefighters to prepare for deteriorating conditions over the weekend.

Dangerous fire conditions are expected to return to southeast NSW on Saturday, where the temperature is forecast to reach 45C inland and 44C on the coast.

A gusty southerly is expected to cross the area in the afternoon.

Fire danger will be severe to extreme with the RFS saying conditions on Saturday will likely be worse than those experienced on New Year’s Eve.

THE ROADS

Motorists should avoid travel to the south coast and Snowy Mountains-Riverina areas, where fires have caused widespread power outages and major road closures.

The Princes Highway north of Batemans Bay has been reopened, with a reduced speed limit of 60 km/h.

Sections of the Princes Highway south of Batemans Bay remain closed.

The Snowy Mountains Highway is open between Bega and Adaminaby, providing a route back to Sydney and Canberra for motorists on the far south coast.

The Adaminaby to Tumut section of the highway is open for residents only while several other major alpine roads are exit-only or completely closed.

Victoria

WHAT’S HAPPENING?

Two confirmed deaths including – Buchan resident Mick Roberts

There are 28 people who remain missing in Gippsland

Ten watch and act warnings in place across the state, the second highest warning level

About 50 fires are still burning in the state

A ‘very active’ fire at Ensay in the Swift’s Creek Valley with more blazes around Hotham and Omeo

More than 1,000 firefighters are working across the state

There are between 3,000 to 4,000 people stranded in Mallacoota and they are being asked to register for navy evacuation. The plan is for 800 to be taken out by sea from 7am Friday, with more trips to follow

Helicopters will be used for evacuations as well, when possible because of smoke

Some firefighter shift changes are happening via helicopter

24 satellite phones either dropped into isolated communities or delivered later on Thursday

The CFA is burning out areas around Clifton Creek

Relief packages including water are arriving to remote communities

THE FALLOUT SO FAR?

Confirmed property losses are 24 at Buchan, 19 at Sarsfield, 10 at Mallacoota and 15 at Cudgewa, but more losses are expected to be confirmed

Structures lost include the Clifton Creek Primary School, which the state government has vowed to rebuild. Temporary facilities will be in place for the start of term one

More than 766,000 hectares of land has been burnt out in East Gippsland

About 24 remote communities have lost power and phone coverage

A boil water notice for Mallacoota has been lifted, but people are asked to restrict to essential use

WHAT’S NEXT?

With the worsening conditions forecast in East Gippsland and Alpine areas from Friday night into Saturday, residents are being ask to think about leaving now if they can

It could take days or even weeks to entirely evacuate Mallacoota because of the logistical challenges

Moderate conditions on Thursday are helping firefighters, with temperatures in the low to mid 20s and fairly light winds

Mercury is forecast to creep up in the region on Friday, before reaching the 40s on Saturday, when the heat, hot winds and possible thunderstorms will increase the risk of new fires

 

Holidaymakers attempting to flee Batemans Bay before temperatures reach 46C on Saturday were trapped on the roads with long rows of cars seen piled up on Thursday (pictured)

Holidaymakers attempting to flee Batemans Bay before temperatures reach 46C on Saturday were trapped on the roads with long rows of cars seen piled up on Thursday (pictured)

Holidaymakers attempting to flee Batemans Bay before temperatures reach 46C on Saturday were trapped on the roads with long rows of cars seen piled up on Thursday (pictured)

Caged lions pace in front of a circus tent on the side of the Princes Highway as a convoy of vehicles carrying bushfire evacuees sat paralysed on the road, Ulladullah

Caged lions pace in front of a circus tent on the side of the Princes Highway as a convoy of vehicles carrying bushfire evacuees sat paralysed on the road, Ulladullah

Caged lions pace in front of a circus tent on the side of the Princes Highway as a convoy of vehicles carrying bushfire evacuees sat paralysed on the road, Ulladullah

Caged lions pace in front of a circus tent on the side of the Princes Highway as a convoy of vehicles carrying bushfire evacuees sat paralysed on the road, Ulladullah

Caged lions pace in front of a circus tent on the side of the Princes Highway as a convoy of vehicles carrying bushfire evacuees sat paralysed on the road, Ulladullah

Caged lions pace in front of a circus tent on the side of the Princes Highway as a convoy of vehicles carrying bushfire evacuees sat paralysed on the road, Ulladullah

Mother reveals her family’s desperate tale of survival after taking a snap of her son, 11, steering a boat with their belongings as they fled the bushfires 

 

Allison Marion, her two sons Finn and Caleb and their family dog were among 4,000 stranded in Mallacoota in Victoria’s far east as a horrific bushfire closed in on the town on Tuesday.

Fleeing the seaside town in an aluminium power boat in a thick red haze, Ms Marion said she took a jarring photo of 11-year-old Finn steering the boat with a smoke mask to ‘record our story for our family’.

Finn, meanwhile, said escaping the burning inferno behind them was ‘pretty scary’, but was happy his family are now safe.

His picture has also featured on news websites and newspapers around the road, but Finn told 9News his new fame was not a priority to him.

‘I’m not really fussed, it’s just a photo,’ he said. ‘We were just worried about getting away from the fire and just being safe.’

The image has since been splashed across the front pages of newspapers both in Australia and internationally as the world watches on at the unprecedented bushfire crisis.

 The family’s home was spared by the blaze, which mercifully also missed the rest of her street.

Hundreds of fires are still burning out of control across the country, destroying millions of hectares, killing 18 and leaving 1,200 homes destroyed, with catastrophic 46C weather forecast for Saturday (pictured)

Hundreds of fires are still burning out of control across the country, destroying millions of hectares, killing 18 and leaving 1,200 homes destroyed, with catastrophic 46C weather forecast for Saturday (pictured)

Hundreds of fires are still burning out of control across the country, destroying millions of hectares, killing 18 and leaving 1,200 homes destroyed, with catastrophic 46C weather forecast for Saturday (pictured)

Business owner Sally Anne Wilson (left) stands in front of her destroyed shop with her partner Christopher Lee in Cobargo, NSW, Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Business owner Sally Anne Wilson (left) stands in front of her destroyed shop with her partner Christopher Lee in Cobargo, NSW, Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Business owner Sally Anne Wilson (left) stands in front of her destroyed shop with her partner Christopher Lee in Cobargo, NSW, Wednesday, January 1, 2020

This picture taken on December 31, 2019 shows a firefighter hosing down trees and flying embers in an effort to secure nearby houses from bushfires near the town of Nowra on the NSW south coast

This picture taken on December 31, 2019 shows a firefighter hosing down trees and flying embers in an effort to secure nearby houses from bushfires near the town of Nowra on the NSW south coast

This picture taken on December 31, 2019 shows a firefighter hosing down trees and flying embers in an effort to secure nearby houses from bushfires near the town of Nowra on the NSW south coast 

Distressed mum stranded in Mallacoota reveals why she DIDN’T leave despite bushfire warnings – after being attacked by vicious trolls online 

By Alana Mazzoni for Daily Mail Australia

A mother stranded in Mallacoota has hit back at trolls who attacked her for not fleeing.

Tamsyn Cromb, her husband Glynn, their three kids and five other families were holidaying in the Victorian tourist town when they were trapped by bushfires on New Year’s Eve.

In an impassioned Facebook post, Ms Cromb called out online trolls who blasted more than 4,000 holiday-makers and locals for not evacuating the area.

Tamsyn Cromb (right), her husband Glynn (middle) and their three kids were holidaying in Mallacoota when they were trapped by bushfires on New Year's Eve

Tamsyn Cromb (right), her husband Glynn (middle) and their three kids were holidaying in Mallacoota when they were trapped by bushfires on New Year's Eve

Tamsyn Cromb (right), her husband Glynn (middle) and their three kids were holidaying in Mallacoota when they were trapped by bushfires on New Year’s Eve

The mother-of-three said people were told to stay because it was the safest option.

‘Firstly, we were NOT told to leave,’ she wrote. ‘The VicEmergency app actually advised that staying was the safest option.’

‘Secondly, the people who did stay weren’t doing so to be inconsiderate to the locals or emergency services.

‘It’s actually really fricken scary being faced with the fact that you might make the wrong choice, but you’re in that situation and a choice has to be made.’

Ms Cromb said it wasn’t as simple as simply ‘packing up and leaving,’ and said the town’s fuel supply was strictly limited to emergency service vehicles.

‘We and many others only had a quarter of a tank left from the trip up here, so no hope of getting very far anyway!,’ the mother wrote.

‘It was a 40 degree day, the highway towards home was at threat of being impacted by several other major fires and being closed at any time.’

The mother-of-three said she is fed up with reading online comments trolling tourists for not leaving

The mother-of-three said she is fed up with reading online comments trolling tourists for not leaving

The mother-of-three said she is fed up with reading online comments trolling tourists for not leaving

Ms Cromb and other families were unable to leave as the highway into NSW was open to traffic but major bushfires were bearing it down.

She also said hotels and motels were all booked out due to it being peak holiday season. 

‘We attended the community meeting here in Mallacoota and were told that IF we were planning to leave, it had to be right after the meeting and up the coast was the only option,’ she wrote.

‘Several people did make the choice to leave. But as a group of 5 families we decided that staying here by the water was safer than travelling in the opposite direction to home in extreme heat and fire danger, with the threat of existing fires and potential new ones starting, and being trapped on a busy road with nowhere to go!’

Ms Cromb told Daily Mail Australia that people who judge from their living rooms have no idea how the bushfires unfolded.

‘No one could have predicted the new fire at Wingan River and no person would purposely put their children through something so scary if they didn’t feel it was the safest option in an awful situation,’ she said.

The government has declared a total fire ban on Friday across East Gippsland and the Wimmera, North East and South West regions.

Temperatures are expected to peak in the high 20s and winds will be light, but that does not rule out more fire danger.

‘There can be significant fire activity even when conditions are fairly light in terms of winds,’ Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Tom Delamotte told AAP. 

A supplied image obtained on Thursday, January 2, 2020, shows smoke billowing from a fire burning at East Gippsland, Victoria

A supplied image obtained on Thursday, January 2, 2020, shows smoke billowing from a fire burning at East Gippsland, Victoria

A supplied image obtained on Thursday, January 2, 2020, shows smoke billowing from a fire burning at East Gippsland, Victoria

Mallacoota is just one of about 24 small towns in Victoria which have been isolated due to the unpredictable fires.  

Family members had already confirmed Buchan man Mick Roberts had died at his home.

The death toll for the latest horror fire season totalled at 18 as of Friday morning.  

A kangaroo rushes past a burning house in Conjola (pictured) on New Year's Eve, as officials prepare for a 'horrible day' on Saturday, with blistering temperatures and high winds likely to make conditions far worse

A kangaroo rushes past a burning house in Conjola (pictured) on New Year's Eve, as officials prepare for a 'horrible day' on Saturday, with blistering temperatures and high winds likely to make conditions far worse

A kangaroo rushes past a burning house in Conjola (pictured) on New Year’s Eve, as officials prepare for a ‘horrible day’ on Saturday, with blistering temperatures and high winds likely to make conditions far worse

Eerie photos show the once quiet country town destroyed by fires as the sky turns a deep red and buildings are left torn apart

Eerie photos show the once quiet country town destroyed by fires as the sky turns a deep red and buildings are left torn apart

Eerie photos show the once quiet country town destroyed by fires as the sky turns a deep red and buildings are left torn apart

2019/2020 FIRE SEASON DEATH TOLL

NSW Police confirmed a total of eight people have been killed and two are unaccounted for in the South Coast bushfires since Monday.

The recent deaths include dairy farmer Patrick Salway, 29, and his father Robert, 63, who died trying to save their property in Cobargo, near Bega. 

On Wednesday night, a man’s body was located a family property in Maraningo Creek, near Genoa, in Victoria’s East Gippsland region, taking the death toll to 18. 

A 70-year-old man was found dead outside a home at Yatte Yattah, west of Lake Conjola, on Tuesday night, while another man’s body was found in a burnt vehicle on a road off the Princes Highway at Yatte Yattah Wednesday morning.

The body of a man was found in a vehicle on Wandra Road at Sussex Inlet about 11.30am Wednesday but is yet to be formally identified, while a seventh body was found outside a home Coolagolite, about 10km east of Cobargo, on Wednesday. 

Beloved great-grandfather Mick Roberts, 67, from Buchan, in East Gippsland, was found dead at his home on Wednesday morning. 

On Sunday, young father and volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul, 28, was fighting a blaze in Jingellic, in Green Valley, about 70km east of Albury on the border of NSW and Victoria, when the truck he was in rolled, killing him instantly. 

Two other firefighters died on December 19 after a tree fell on their truck while they were travelling through Buxton, south of Sydney.  

Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, and Geoffrey Keaton, 32, were later named as the volunteers involved in the tragic accident the following day.

Both men were young fathers and had volunteered with the Horsley Park Rural Fire Service brigade for more than a decade. 

Two people also died in South Australian fires before Christmas, including 69-year-old engineer Ron Selth.

His body was found in his Charleston home, which was destroyed by the Cudlee Creek blaze on December 21.

Another person died in a fiery car crash on the same day. 

In early November, just weeks into the horror fire season which has been baring down on the nation for months, three people perished in northern NSW.

George Nole’s body was found in a burnt out car near his home in Glen Innes while 63-year-old Julie Fletcher’s body was pulled from a scorched building in Johns River, north of Taree.

Vivian Chaplain, a 69-year-old woman from Wytaliba, succumbed to her injuries in hospital after attempting in vain to save her home and animals from the blaze.  

The fourth victim was named just days later as 58-year-old Barry Parsons.

His body was discovered in bushland on the southern end of the Kyuna Track at Willawarrin, near Kempsey, on November 13. 

77-year-old Bob Lindsey and 68-year-old Gwen Hyde were found in their burned out property on October 9th.

In this satellite image, the Clyde Mountain Fire south of Sydney could be seen from outer space

In this satellite image, the Clyde Mountain Fire south of Sydney could be seen from outer space

In this satellite image, the Clyde Mountain Fire south of Sydney could be seen from outer space

Some tourists in Mallacoota have resorted to hiring private charters in an attempt to have supplies brought to them, while private owners have done their best to help people who are stranded. 

Mr Morrison said the federal government was offering any assistance requested.

‘Our task has been to fully support and provide whatever assistance is necessary through all the various agencies of the Commonwealth,’ he told reporters in Sydney.

MP Darren Chester described conditions as 'sh*thouse' in Mallacoota on Thursday afternoon

MP Darren Chester described conditions as 'sh*thouse' in Mallacoota on Thursday afternoon

MP Darren Chester described conditions as ‘sh*thouse’ in Mallacoota on Thursday afternoon

‘The provision of disaster payments that have now exceeded some more than $21 million in New South Wales alone and we expect more of that to continue in Victoria as the full devastation of the fires there becomes more evident.’

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it is too early to say what the full financial cost of the fires will be to taxpayers, but stressed that figure is not the government’s main focus.

‘It’s about the human cost of these tragic fires,’ he told reporters in Melbourne.

He added the prime minister will visit Victoria in coming days. 

On Thursday night, warning levels for all Victorian fires were sitting no higher than a ‘watch and act’ alert. 

Authorities are also concerned a fire at Corryong in Victoria’s northeast could merge with another on NSW’s southern border.

Corryong residents are being doorknocked and told to leave the region before the weekend. 

So far the fires have burnt 784,000 hectares in Victoria and about 3.6million hectares across the nation.

Original Source