Fire Disaster Update

News update from:

Here’s where we stand right now:

Three more people have been confirmed dead in NSW, bringing the total number of deaths as a result of these fires to seven. A total of 176 homes are confirmed to have been destroyed in the state.

There are two emergency fires at the moment- one in Tasmania (Fingal) and one in Perth (Orelia)

Authorities are making their way to isolated communities affected by the fires yesterday, bringing supplies and information. Power is slowly being restored.

Today has brought cooler conditions, but authorities have warned Saturday will bring conditions worse than Tuesday, with strong winds and temperatures exceeding 40 degrees expected.

A phone line has been set up in NSW for anyone who needs information about the bushfire situation. The number to call is 1800-227-228.

Peter Marshedited by Jacqueline Howard


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  • a few seconds ago

Some good news coming out of the NSW RFS press conference right now


From the Deputy NSW Police Commissioner:

“As much as we still have a long way to go,  access from Batemans Bay north will be open to very restricted access from some time this afternoon.

“Towards south of Batemans Bay, we will also work with that with some local roads down the coast that will bring people down in through Bega, and across Brown Mountain, into Coomera, Canberra, and they can make their way up towards Goulburn, up the Hume towards Sydney and out further west.

 “I can also report that small amounts of power have been restored to places like Ulladulla and shortly around some places around Batemans Bay.”

Jacqueline Howard


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  • 9 minutes ago

Many people in rural communities across New South Wales and Victoria have spent the day surveying the damage to their properties and coming to terms with the task of rebuilding their lives.

Let’s look at which towns have been devastated, show you where they are and what the people there have endured via first-hand accounts.

Mallacoota, Victoria

Mallacoota is where most of the dreadful New Year’s Eve news kicked off as the town woke to blackened skies.

It was still dark at 9:30am and later in the day the sky changed to a terrifying red as holidaymakers who could not make it out before it was too late to leave huddled on the beach or on the town’s jetty. When the wind changed later in the day and the conditions were safer, a cheer went up from those on that pier.


Instagram: travelling_aus_family

Business-owner Mark Peters described the devastating scenes in Mallacoota where several homes and structures were lost. He sheltered by the water as fires approached the township yesterday and has since returned to town to find his property reduced to rubble.

“It’s been totally flattened … it looks like a warzone,” Mr Peters told RN Breakfast. “All the houses around me are gone. There’s probably 15 houses in the street, probably 6 of them survived.

Sarsfield, Victoria

The isolated rural town in East Gippsland, on the Great Alpine Road, has a recorded population of little over 600 residents.

Bushfires ripped through the township on Tuesday afternoon leaving twisted metal and gutted buildings behind. The local school was completely destroyed by the fire.


A local police sergeant, Graham Shenton, told a harrowing story of survival and he knew he was extremely lucky after opting to defend his property — a decision he later described as “stupid”.

“The sky dropped down, it was like fire falling out of the sky and it lit up everything between me and the river, and everything burned,” Sergeant Shelton told the ABC. “Everything you think you know about fire, when it comes, it just makes its own mind up.”

Corryong and Cudgewa, Victoria

The towns, which are 10 minutes apart, were both left decimated by a firefront on New Year’s Eve. The total combined population sits at around 1,500 with Corryong the much bigger of the two towns near the NSW border.

The area is still one where details of what happened are the most scarce, but was described in a second-hand account as a disaster zone.


Shalee Gherbaz said she had spoken to her brother in Corryong, who described the town as “an absolute mess”. “Fires are everywhere but the town was standing strong,” Ms Gherbaz said.

Batemans Bay, NSW

Located on the New South Wales South Coast, the area is especially busy at Christmas time when many Sydneysiders head south to take vacations, whether they be at holiday homes or camping. The area is usually home to over 16,000 people but it swells over holiday periods. Batemans Bay is also a haven for wildlife.

Batemans Bay came under siege as a ring of fire surrounded the area in the early afternoon. Residents and holiday-makers took refuge on local beaches and flames could be seen rising high on the opposite point in truly terrifying scenes.


“There’s no internet, we cannot access the RFS website and I know everyone is doing their absolute best but we have no information,” Karen Freer, who was on holiday from Canberra, said on Tuesday. “We don’t know where the fire is … we just don’t know the current situation.”

When the dust settled on New Year’s Day the scene was one of catastrophic damage with hundreds of properties destroyed and at least one person unaccounted for.

Conjola Park, NSW

The small, idyllic inlet lies just 18 kilometres to the north of regional centre Ulladulla and is popular with campers, fishermen and surfers due to the great conditions for all three pursuits.

Fire ripped through the area late on New Year’s Eve and, in the town, it left a trail of destruction. Eighty-nine properties were lost in the small area and harrowing tales have emerged.


Lake Conjola resident Karen Lissa told the ABC she thought she would die.

“You just go through all these emotions,” she said. “You think ‘I’m gonna die’. “We’re lucky. Just really grateful that we’re alive and we’ve got our house. I’ve never seen this. So many homes lost, this is devastating.”

A man also lost his life in the area. His body found in a burnt-out car near Lake Conjola, just off the Princes Highway.

Cobargo, NSW

The town of Cobargo is a historic village of nearly 800 people near Bega, in the south of New South Wales.

In short, scenes of horror and devastation rocked the tiny community on New Years Eve when fire tore through the town early on Tuesday morning.


A woman found her husband Robert Salway and her son Patrick Salway dead after they had tried in vain to protect the family home. The main street was destroyed and, at the end of the day, Patrick Salway’s wife Renee posted a touching tribute on social media.

“I love you now, I love you still, I always have and always will,” she wrote. “I will see you again Patrick, my best friend. Hope you are up there ‘fixing things in the stars tonight’. Love forever, Harley & me.”

Mogo, NSW

The picturesque town, inland of Batemans Bay, is arguably most famous for its zoo, which used to house some white lion cubs.

The battle to save the zoo was won as staff fought the flames themselves, while the zoo’s director Chad Staples took smaller animals home to his house to keep them safe.


As the fire raged they put the large animals in the safest parts of the zoo and were able to not only save the property but also make sure not a single animal lost its life. Mr Staples described the conditions as “apocalyptic” but felt he and staff were able to defend the zoo because they enacted their fire defence plan.

“It felt like Armageddon a few hours ago,” Mr Staples told the ABC.

Others were not so lucky. The zoo survived but the town itself was stripped bare as much of the main street was razed to the ground, unable to avoid the ferocious flames.

More on these testimonials here.

Jacqueline Howard


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  • 33 minutes ago

Perth now has an emergency fire in Orelia, one of its southern suburbs


Supplied: Emergency WA

Jacqueline Howard


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  • 34 minutes ago

New South Wales’s Dunn Road fire is no longer at Emergency level

It has been downgraded to Watch and Act

Jacqueline Howard


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  • 37 minutes ago

Peter, I have friends who were evacuated to the Corryong College. There has been little coverage of Corryong but apparently a convoy of 68 trucks evacuated people last night, with 12 remaining behind in the college. No further info was available or provided. Who remained behind? Did the trucks get out safely, where are they now and where are they headed? Thanks for any help in getting more info, please.

-Kate Ballenger

I apologise in the delay in getting information to you, Kate. Power and communication have been down. 

Evacuees will have been taken to safer areas such as the nearby border cities of Albury-Wodonga.

We’re expecting more information soon.

Jacqueline Howard


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  • 39 minutes ago

BOM weather forecast for NSW, Vic, SA and ACT grim as cold front approaches WA

The reprieve from the worst of the heatwave and fire conditions in the south-east will be short.



The west will get the heat first with catastrophic fire danger forecast for the Goldfields region on Thursday and temperatures well over 40 degrees Celsius are forecast for the south east of the state.

South Australia will be next, with four districts expected experience extreme fire danger conditions on Friday.

Southern and eastern Victoria are also expected to be hot on Friday, and the heat will extend into Saturday for the north-west of the state.

Saturday will also bring dangerous conditions for New South Wales, with a wind change similar coming up the coast in much the same way as the change that came through on New Years Eve.

Canberra is expected to swelter through a 42C day on Saturday.

For more detail on the forecast for the coming days, weather reporter Kate Doyle’s report can be found here

Jacqueline Howard


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  • an hour ago

East Gippsland power outages could take “some days, possibly weeks” to repair

Steve Brown from Ausnet Services has told ABC Gippsland that people in Mallacoota and surrounding towns could be without power “for some days, possibly for weeks”.

The energy company was not able to give an exact timeframe for when homes and businesses could be reconnected, but said the repairs needed could be “substanstive”.

Mr Brown said though residents in Mallacoota have access to a generator, but this cannot be turned on until the area is assessed.

“Till we can get out there, and make those inspections and ensure everything is safe, we won’t be able to turn the power back on there,” he said.

Ausnet services say they have helped 2,000 people in some areas surrounding Orbost and Newmerella get back online today.

Jacqueline Howard


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  • an hour ago

“We’re still running blind here”: People in Mallacoota frustrated with lack of communication from authorities

Trevor Joy who became stranded in Mallacoota while on holidays has told the ABC says he and his family don’t have a plan about what to do now because they don’t know when they can get out.

“The lack of information we’ve got, we’re still running blind here, bar the one meeting that we had at 11am,” he said, “bar that no one really knows anything”

He says that Mallacoota “dodged a bullet” and that firefighters efforts saved the town.

“We’re very lucky in many ways if you look at all the maps  it speaks for itself that everywhere has been obliterated except for this tiny little dot on the map,”  he said told the ABC.

Jacqueline Howard


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  • an hour ago

Any news on Caves House at Jenolan?It is concerning the Green Wattle Creek fire has been through the area and ArcGIS indicates there may still be active fire. But hoping no news is good news in this context.


Not at the moment, Gavan, sorry! 

Jacqueline Howard


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  • an hour ago

Has anyone got any updates on Swanhaven please?


The only information I have is on the RFS fire map:


That yellow fire is the Watch and Act Currowan fire.

Jacqueline Howard


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  • 2 hours ago

New South Wales has a new Emergency fire at Dunns Road in the Snowy Valleys area in between Wagga and Canberra

Jacqueline Howard


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  • 2 hours ago

Power restored to many on the NSW South Coast

Jacqueline Howard


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  • 2 hours ago

Pictures from the Melbourne beach where people were forced to flee for their lives

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