Horror conditions hit southern Australia as bushfires blaze

The deteriorating conditions that had been forecast for days hit on Saturday, exacerbating the bush fires blazing across southern Australia.

Across the country, the horror summer claimed three more lives on Saturday. A a man who was attempting to defend a friend's rural property in Batlow, NSW was found unconscious in a ute. The bodies of father and son Dick and Clayton Lang were found in and near a burnt out car on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. But the number of people listed as missing in Victoria dropped, with now only six people who cannot be accounted for.

As of 11pm, there were 10 fires burning with an emergency alert warning in NSW, some of which were creating their own weather patterns. There were another 12 fires at emergency alert level in Victoria and another at evacuate now.

The emergency level blazes include five in the Snowy Mountain region and five near the NSW far south coast. As the southerly change moved its way up Eastern Australia, it pushed the fires north with it and and created dangerous conditions.

Several sites have set record temperatures, including Penrith which hit 48.9 degrees, Canberra at 44 degrees and Albury at 46 degrees.

NSW Rural Fire Service community safety officer Marty Webster says there was an "enormous" amount of fire in southern NSW and conditions had been worsening in line with forecasts.

"Our grave concern is for people who haven't acted on our advice and are in bushland areas," he said.

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean has pleaded for users in NSW, the ACT and Victoria to reduce their power usage after bushfires in the Snowy Mountains region cut off a major interstate transmission line.

NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the weather hit the state about 5pm and moved slowly up the coast.

"It's going to be a very long afternoon and evening and, as that southerly approaches, it's going to be a volatile southerly with wind strengths up to 80km/h or more," he said.

"A long, difficult few hours, a dangerous set of a few hours given the amount of emergency alerts out there.

"Of course, we expect that that could deteriorate further this afternoon with more fires starting to spread and increase in activity."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced extra federal help, and up to 3000 army reservists and an extra naval ship will join bushfire disaster and recovery efforts.

Four extra firefighting planes will also be leased to tackle the blazes. Australian Defence Force bases from Brisbane to Adelaide will be opened to accommodate bushfire victims left without somewhere to stay.


Defence is poised to set up a national task force to coordinate personnel involved in bushfire assistance across the country.

It will also deploy more planes and helicopters to help with transport and evacuation in bushfire areas.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state was in for a long night with the worst of the conditions yet to hit.

"And I make no bones about that," she said on Saturday afternoon.

"To date, fortunately, we have had no advice on any lives under threat or lost. However, it's a very volatile situation.

"We ask everybody to follow the RFS advice to take cover if you are still in one of the fire zones or to ensure that you are in one of the safe zones that have been designated in your community."

On the NSW far south coast, the Clyde Mountain and Currowan fires are both burning at emergency alert level and out of control late Saturday.

All areas between Nowra and Kioloa east of the Princes Highway should seek shelter as the Currowan fire approaches. The window of opportunity to leave had closed, the Rural Fire Service said at 3.30pm.

It is too late to leave the Coolendel and North Nowra areas.

The fire has crossed the Shoalhaven River and areas between Nowra and the Kangaroo Valley should continue to monitor conditions and be alert to embers and spot fires.

It is also too late to leave North Batemans Bay, Surfside, Long Beach, South Durras and Maloneys Beach as the Clyde Mountain fire approaches.

At 9.30pm Saturday, five fires at emergency warning levels were burning out of control in the Snowy Mountain region. They were: Dunns Road, Adaminaby Complex, Doubtful Gap Trail, Good Good and Inaloy Trail fires.

The Dunns road fire is threatening Ellerslie, Adelong, Mundaroo, Ournie, Mannua, Wondalga, Kunama, Batlow and surrounding areas. It is now too late to leave those towns.

The Adaminaby fire is threatening Yaouk in the north and Lake Eucumbene in the south including Adaminaby and Shannons Flat, where it is too late to leave.

There are no active fires in the ACT but the Adaminaby Complex poses the greatest current risk of crossing into the territory.


By about 3.30pm on Saturday the expected southerly shift had hit Merimbula, Victoria.

Soon after, the sky turned a vibrant orange as smoke billowed through from the devastating fires in Victoria.

People were largely caught unawares by the conditions with many returning to their homes from the shops, while others were spotted walking their dogs.

Conditions quickly deteriorated and the smoke became thicker with ash and debris enough to burn eyes, while the sky darkened to an ominous red by 5pm and hazing to near-black by about 5.15pm.

In South Australia, two people have died in a bushfire on South Australia's Kangaroo Island. There is a watch and act alert in place for the fire which has destroyed about 100,000 hectares.

The NSW bushfire death toll sits at 17.

This story Horror conditions hit southern Australia as bushfires blaze first appeared on The Canberra Times.