Terrifying images show a scorched hillside dotted with hundreds of spot fires after a raging blaze sparked a mass evacuation in rural Victoria.
An incredible picture taken on Saturday in Euroa showed what was left of the fire after it raced across Balmattum Hill Bushland Reserve and threatened to decimate the neighbouring town.
‘Balmattum Hill is really glowing tonight, however not as much as all of our incredible and selfless emergency services. Thank you,’ Melissa Ericksen posted to Facebook.
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The horrifying image was taken in Balmattum Hill, Euroa, 164 kilometres north west of Melbourne, on Saturday
Social media images showed the daunting sight of hundreds of small blazes covering the hillside
As the fire front approached, the sky was filled with orange flames and thick, grey plumes of smoke (Pictured: Batlow bushfire on Saturday)
The image was shared by Maindample Rural Fire Brigade with the caption: ‘Looks like lava’.
Ms Ericksen watched more than 40 fire trucks, three helicopters and three aircraft battle the blaze from 9am.
The hill was covered by smoke and couldn’t be seen from the town until strong winds blew through just before 10pm.
‘Balmattum Hill is a place I have walked all my life and it appeared to be covered in lava under the darkness,’ she told news.com.au.
Firefighters have spent weeks defending lives and property from the blazes. Pictured: Two firefighters doing what they can to stop the fire in Batlow on Saturday
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said early indications suggest hundreds of homes were lost across NSW in Saturday’s blaze
A supplied image obtained on Thursday, January 2, 2020, shows smoke billowing from a fire burning at East Gippsland, Victoria
‘The photo is beautiful yet terrifying.
‘Our emergency services did an incredible job containing the fire and preventing any loss of houses.’
Jackson Leslight, 18, said his home wouldn’t have survived the fire burning on the hill if the wind hadn’t changed direction.
Mr Leslight, his parents and his girlfriend had 15 minutes to pack the essentials as the flames reached within 400m of their home.
2019/2020 FIRE SEASON DEATH TOLL
By Brittany Chain for Daily Mail Australia
A total of nine people have been killed in the New South Wales bushfires since Monday, taking the total death toll across the nation to 23.
David Harrison, a 47-year-old man from Canberra, became the latest casualty of the bushfires after he suffered a heart attack defending his friend’s home on Saturday, January 4.
The recent deaths also include dairy farmer Patrick Salway, 29, and his father Robert, 63, who died trying to save their property in Cobargo, near Bega.
An off-duty RFS firefighter, believed to be 72-year-old Colin Burns, was found near a car in Belowra after the NYE fires swept through.
Another person died on December 29 from serious burns sustained in a fire in November.
Well-known outback pilot Dick Lang and his son, Adelaide surgeon Clayton Lang, died in the Kangaroo Island bushfire after their car was trapped by flames.
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.
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.
The group didn’t have to flee after the wind change.
‘Even though they were starting to control it, the tops of trees were just glowing red, it was surreal,’ he told Herald Sun.
‘It’s almost like looking at the night sky when you’re looking down from a plane on top of a city. I haven’t seen anything like that. It was sort of morbidly beautiful, to be honest.’
The Euroa fire was declared under control just after 2pm on Sunday after it burned 385 hectares of land.
Firefighters and other emergency services remained active in the area that afternoon.
Residents were told to continue monitoring the situation.
One image was shared by Maindample Rural Fire Brigade with the caption: ‘Looks like lava’
Fire and rescue, as well as waterbombing helicopters, did their best to help out in Batlow on Saturday, but low visibility made it difficult and risky
Firefighters are seen struggling against the strong winds which are blowing embers on them in an effort to secure houses near bushfires on Tuesday
Dozens of fires were burning in Victoria as dawn broke on Sunday, 11 of which were subject to emergency warning, the highest alert level.
But conditions eased as the day went on, providing some relief to exhausted volunteers and terrified locals.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp urged Victorians to remain vigilant, saying the weather will start to warm up on Thursday and Friday.
‘What we are seeing with our weather, is yes, it is milder, it’s more moderate, there has actually been some rain. But in terms of people thinking that this rain is going to put the fires out, that’s not the case,’ Mr Crisp said.
‘There has been such a drought, particularly in the East Gippsland area, we know these fires are with us for a long time.’
Dozens of fires were burning in Victoria as dawn broke on Sunday, 11 of which were subject to emergency warning, the highest alert level
Currently two fires are on an emergency warning alert level.
Six people remain missing in East Gippsland blazes, on top of two confirmed dead.
More than 900,000 hectares of land has been overrun by flames, with about 110 properties and 220 outbuildings razed so far.
Temperatures soared to the early and mid-40s in parts of East Gippsland and northeast Victoria on Saturday, with total fire bans in place for a swag of weather districts.
A total fire ban is also in place across New South Wales, where more than 100 blazes are still burning.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has accepted the bushfires ravaging the state are ‘unprecedented’ and admitted she was in ‘unchartered territory’.
The announcement came as state authorities confirmed another person, 47-year-old David Harrison, died on Saturday night, making him the ninth fatality since Monday.
The fires send thick plumes of black smoke into the air. Pictured: Wattle Creek Fire on December 19
Mr Harrison died of a heart attack after returning to a car to refill water to help battle a blaze at his friend’s.
He had travelled to Batlow from his home in Goulburn to help his friend Geoff battle the blaze. He has been remembered as a hero.
Mr Harrison’s brother Peter told 9News his brother would ‘do anything for anyone’.
‘He didn’t want to leave Geoff on his own. He was just that sort of guy. He would help anyone at the drop of a hat – he would drive hours to help you,’ Mr Harrison said.
‘He’s a hero in our eyes.’
Mr Harrison said David and Geoff had planned to evacuate but he believes they were ‘overcome with the heat, smoke, exhaustion and running around putting out spot fires everywhere.’
David Harrison (pictured) has been identified as the man who died helping a friend save his home near Canberra on Saturday night
AUSTRALIA’S BUSHFIRE CRISIS – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Evacuations are underway and emergency alerts are in place in NSW, Victoria and South Australia as authorities predict the devastating bushfires will continue burning until at least March.
At least 23 people have been killed in blazes across the country since the bushfire season began in October, there are six people still missing in fire-affected regions
NEW SOUTH WALES/ACT
- At least 150 bushfires were burning in NSW on Sunday
- 19 people dead
- 3.6 million hectares burned, greater than the size of Belgium
- At least 1,365 homes confirmed destroyed
- Two people dead, four missing
- About 50 bushfires burning
- More than 784,000 hectares burned
- 330 structures confirmed destroyed but significantly more expected
- Three people, including two from Kangaroo Island, are dead
- 17 bushfires burning, four of significance
- More than 100,000 hectares burned
- 88 homes confirmed destroyed
- About 600 properties on Kangaroo Island remain without power with SA Power Networks warning it may be some time before crews can access the fire ground to assess damage
- 33 bushfires burning
- 250,000 hectares burned
- 45 homes confirmed destroyed
- More than 35 bushfires burning, two of significance
- 1.5 million hectares burned
- One home confirmed destroyed
- 23 bushfires burning, two of significance
- 30,000 hectares burned
- Two homes confirmed destroyed
- Five bushfires burning
- Five homes confirmed destroyed