Tag: East Gippsland


Victoria retracts coronavirus cases confirmed in regional areas by mistake


Shepparton East 3631

The Victorian Health Department has apologised for confirming a number of COVID-19 cases in regional areas of the state that later proved to be incorrect.

Key points:

  • As of Wednesday’s update, the total number of cases in Victoria is 466, including 47 in regional areas
  • Incorrect reports have created confusion in some communities, with people airing their frustration on social media
  • The Opposition says it is crucial that the Government passes on accurate information to the public

The department initially reported cases for Greater Shepparton and East Gippsland but retracted the data “after further investigation”.

The incorrect information had been sent to media outlets and posted on the department’s website as part of a daily update detailing the number of new coronavirus cases.

On Monday, the department reported one case for East Gippsland but made a retraction today.

Also on Monday, it said two earlier cases had been removed after further investigation.

And in an alert issued yesterday, the department confirmed a third coronavirus case for Greater Shepparton, however a spokesperson this morning told the ABC a correction would be issued.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

Miscommunication around case messaging

Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Matt Sharp told his hundreds of followers in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening that incorrect reports were circulating of a third case in Shepparton.

“I can advise at this time, the third reported case appears to be an error,” he wrote.

“I can confirm there are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this time, as detailed in my previous posts.”

The post sparked confusion within the community, with some taking to Facebook to air their frustration.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak



Photo:

Matt Sharp used Facebook to reject reports of a third case in Greater Shepparton. (Supplied)

A spokesperson for the department said the error for Greater Shepparton was due to one case being counted twice, while testing of a suspected case in East Gippsland proved negative.

They apologised for the confusion and said information was constantly being reviewed and followed up as part of contact tracing.

According to today’s update, the total number of cases in Victoria is 466, including 47 in regional areas.

The department’s data confirmed a fresh case for East Gippsland.

There are eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria that may have been acquired through community transmission.

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‘It’s truly testing all of us’

Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said it was crucial the Government passed on accurate information to the public.

“I think everyone understands that this is a very difficult time for everybody, it’s truly testing all of us,” Ms Crozier said.

“We need to all be saying the same thing so that people don’t get confused, that they understand what’s going on and have trust in the authorities that are dealing with this very serious issue.

“Our doctors and nurses, our paramedics, all of those people who work in our hospitals, all of those people who are trying to assist the general community during this really difficult time, are doing a tremendous job and they need to be supported too.”

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

Following this morning’s updated figures, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton reinforced the need for people to take social distancing seriously.

“Social distancing will save lives,” Professor Sutton said.

“Everyone needs to comply with restrictions in place to keep yourself, your loved ones and the whole community safe.

“We urge everyone to stay 1.5 metres away from everyone else, wash your hands often with soap and water, and cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.”

A spokesperson for the department said it was “working around the clock to get accurate and timely information on reporting of cases to the public on a daily basis”. 

“The data coming into the department is dynamic and subject to change, as it is collected from a range of sources and is reviewed hour by hour.”


Video: The Virus: Jeremy Fernandez tracks the major coronavirus developments

(ABC News)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Senior GP wants tourists to steer clear of bushfire-hit towns to prevent spread of coronavirus


Traralgon 3844

A rural Victorian GP is urging tourists to stay away from already vulnerable bushfire-ravaged regions to delay and minimise the spread of coronavirus.

Key points:

  • Tourism operators are desperate to lure tourists back to bushfire-affected towns
  • A Bairnsdale GP says these towns should be avoided because of their ageing populations, which are vulnerable to coronavirus
  • The call comes as a Morwell family went into quarantine after becoming sick on their return from Hawaii

Tourism operators have been desperate to lure visitors back to towns that suffered severe losses in trade due to a summer holiday period marred by bushfires.

Bairnsdale doctor Rob Phair, who is vice-president of the Rural Doctors Association of Victoria, said while East Gippsland’s relative isolation played to its advantage its ageing population was at risk, and every effort should be made to avoid exposure to coronavirus.

“On the one hand we’re promoting travel to East Gippsland,” he said.

“We want people to come back and support our small businesses, which is a critical part of our rebuilding. But on the other hand, if we have a rapidly evolving epidemic or even a pandemic we need to think about how we keep our population safe,” he said.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

“We need to consider principles such as social distancing, self-quarantining and self-isolation, avoiding big gatherings, which might mean deciding not to go to the Formula One Grand Prix or the footy when the footy season starts.”

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

Dr Phair said the safest option for people in rural areas was to stay within their region’s borders.

“I know it might be a controversial point, but it’s something we need to think about because if coronavirus does start affecting rural areas we want to delay it as long as possible and stretch out the impact to give us more time to use our resources more efficiently,” he said.

“If we had a significant spike in numbers out here, I would be very concerned … we may have to change our lifestyles, and we may have to have restrictions introduced.

“We have limited resources and quite a large older population in East Gippsland and Wellington Shire, and you’d have to be very worried about how some of our older patients with multiple medical problems would do if there was an outbreak.”



Photo:

Danielle Tilley and her family in Gippsland fell ill after returning from an overseas holiday last week. (Supplied: Danielle Tilley)

Morwell family spends night in hospital with suspected coronavirus

Danielle Tilley spent Monday night in hospital in the Latrobe Valley, awaiting tests to confirm if she had contracted coronavirus.

Ms Tilley said she arrived home from a holiday in Honolulu with her family on March 5 feeling “really shabby”.

“After normal jetlag, it became apparent we were suffering some sort of illness,” she said.

Ms Tilley, who works for the Victorian Government as a financial analyst, contacted Nurse on Call on Sunday night but was advised the family was fine and should continue about their business as normal.

Industries will be feeling impact of coronavirus at the end of 2020
We’re not rational — especially during times of crisis. That’s something Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg need to come to grips with when they unveil the coronavirus emergency response, writes Ian Verrender.

But on Monday, Ms Tilley and her 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son became more ill and when she called the Nurse on Call hotline a second time, she was transferred to triple-0.

“Two MICA paramedics came to our home on Monday night and we spent hours at our regional hospital as they decided what to do,” Ms Tilley said.

She said when they arrived at Latrobe Regional Hospital they were treated as if they were infected.

“We were in isolation, and tested, and myself and the kids are still awaiting results,” she said.

The family remains in quarantine at home in Morwell.

Rural health services already stretched



Photo:

Bairnsdale GP Rob Phair is concerned Gippsland health services are ill-equipped to deal with an outbreak of coronavirus. (Supplied: Danielle Tilley )

Dr Phair said doctors and health care workers were growing increasingly worried about the strain coronavirus posed to rural health services.

“We have to look after ourselves so we can look after our communities, because if we get sent into quarantine for 14 days because we’ve got the virus then that’s going to affect the workforce in places like East Gippsland significantly,” Dr Phair said.

Rural Doctors Association of Australia urged people who suspect they have the virus to call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 020 080 to get advice over the telephone before visiting their local GP.

On Wednesday morning, there were 21 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Victoria.

Gippsland marketing consultant Sallie Jones, who operates a local dairy business, has been rolling out a series of tourism campaigns across East Gippsland since the bushfires.

She said the message to discourage tourists had come at the worst possible time.

“People are finally getting on board, coming to East Gippsland and bringing their eskies and filling them up, and it feels like a bit of a stab in the chest to be honest,” Ms Jones said.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was concerned about discouraging tourism in bushfire-affected areas.

“I thought it was all about trying to promote tourism in East Gippsland — not to be driving people away,” he said.


Video: Will the coronavirus push Australia into recession? Alan Kohler takes a look

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‘We can’t use you’: GPs say they were sidelined at bushfire evacuation centres


Australia

Regional doctors have reported being sidelined or restricted when offering help at their local bushfire evacuation centres, and are calling for GPs to be formally added to future emergency response plans.

Key points:

  • A Nowra GP says operational barriers hampered her efforts to help
  • She is seeking a meeting with leaders to co-ordinate future responses
  • A medical body suggests creating a register for regional doctors before emergencies happen

As fires burned across New South Wales and Victoria, private GPs in affected areas went to centres where many of their patients had fled.

Yet some say operational barriers and command structures hampered their efforts, and in one case a GP was told she couldn’t work with the official team to treat people.

Kate Manderson is a GP in Nowra and rallied her staff last weekend as NSW braced for extreme conditions.

She raided her four practices and set up a temporary site at a local evacuation centre, bringing nine oxygen cylinders, two cardiac monitors, three defibrillators, and emergency medications.



Photo:

Dr Manderson brought all the supplies from her own practice. (Supplied)

Dr Manderson said the local authorities were grateful she was there, but she soon hit hurdles.

“I notified the EOC (emergency operation centre) that I was there and willing to help … and the EOC team called me back and said, ‘Well, no. You’re not part of our protocols and you’re not part of our team, so we can’t use you’,” she said.

“It’s not because they didn’t know me, didn’t think I could do a good job … but their protocols, their policies, their governance structures don’t allow someone who is not part of their system to work with their system.

“And that’s what we’re calling to change, to make this part of the system so that these barriers aren’t put in place.”


Infographic:
Some of the supplies Dr Manderson brought to her makeshift clinic.
(Supplied)

Dr Manderson said her team treated about 20 people, including those with respiratory issues and an RFS firefighter who had sustained a cut.

She said she had heard similar stories from colleagues in Mallacoota and Merimbula in the past week, and would seek a meeting with people in leadership positions to have GPs embedded in future emergency evacuation plans.

External Link:

Kate Manderson tweet

“The doctors down at Mallacoota, there’s a bunch of GPs who have stepped up to the plate and got stuff done just because they were there and wanted to step up, not because there was a process in place to allow that to happen,” she said.

“The local health district and the ambulance services were just not really interested in helping us out.”

External Link:

Michael Rice tweet

A doctor in Merimbula — who has chosen to remain anonymous — also expressed frustration at the co-ordination of local help.

She said she went to an evacuation centre but was told she could only give basic first aid, and an ambulance had to be called for anything else.

She said ambulances took an hour to arrive and the St John’s Ambulance team that had been helping was evacuated from her area.

“I don’t understand why there would not be better co-ordination of care,” she said.

“If not for the dedication of our lovely group of local GPs … these people were abandoned with not even any access to basic first aid.”

‘We don’t want chaos’

This week Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that, for the first time, Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) specialists were being deployed in a domestic setting to provide support.

The eight specialists — two doctors, two nurses, two paramedics and two logisticians — were deployed to the RAAF base in Sale in East Gippsland to provide clinical and logistical assistance to evacuees.



Photo:

A family awaiting a community meeting in Narooma on the NSW far south coast. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)

Meanwhile, Victoria’s Rural Workforce Agency — a peak body for medical professionals — has put out the call for locum doctors to head to regional areas to provide support in the coming weeks and months.

Agency CEO Trevor Carr said he understood the concerns of local doctors wanting to help when emergencies happened, but it had to be done in a co-ordinated way.

“We need to have a command structure, because otherwise things just turn to chaos,” he said.

“I think one of the challenges is when the emergency is actually in play, the emergency command structures don’t necessarily take into account private individuals. And of course a lot of general practitioners are in private business.



Photo:

Bushfires have torn through the town of Batlow in south-eastern New South Wales. (Facebook: James R Zimmerman)

He said one idea being considered was creating a register of approved local doctors who could help in future bushfires.

“If at least there’s a preregister of practitioners and clinical nurses with appropriate skills, then as soon as they present their credentials they know that they’re credentialed to go in the zone,” he said.

“That would be a different scenario than just trying to assist in the flurry of the emergency.”

Stay across our bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Second music festival cancelled as bushfire smoke threatens people’s health


Melbourne 3000

A music festival in Victoria’s north-east has been cancelled at the last minute due to poor air quality from bushfire smoke, which is prompting health concerns for the entire state.

Key points:

  • Air quality has improved slightly in Melbourne but is expected to worsen on Thursday when easterly winds pick up
  • Fire-affected communities in East Gippsland and north-eastern Victoria are experiencing hazardous air quality
  • P2 and N95 masks are running low across the state

A Day on the Green was scheduled to take place today at All Saints Estate at Rutherglen, with a line-up including Cold Chisel, Birds of Tokyo and Magic Dirt.

Roundhouse Entertainment promoter Michael Newton said in a statement that the event was cancelled due to “hazardous” air quality at the site and in surrounding areas.

He said the decision was “extremely” disappointing but was made “to protect the health of patrons … staff and artists”.

“The Bureau of Meteorology has advised that wind conditions are not likely to assist in improving this unsafe situation over the coming hours,” he said.

“We are also concerned about traffic, given the fires in the area.”

External Link:

@ADayOnTheGreen: COLD CHISEL – RUTHERGLEN SHOW CANCELLED. We are deeply disappointed we are unable to proceed but our first priority is to the health and safety of our patrons, staff and artists. Full refund will be provided. More info https://t.co/tLNIIlVlDf?amp=1

Mr Newton said they had to wait until the last minute to make a final call but the conditions were not good.

“Our guys have been up here all week working on the site but it wasn’t until I got here yesterday that I fully realised how bad it was,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“It was quite humbling to see them work through the conditions as they have. I just cannot imagine what it must be like for the firefighters and people closer to the action.”

All those who purchased tickets will be contacted by Ticketmaster and given a full refund.

The cancellation follows the Falls Festival event at Lorne over the New Year period being called off due to extreme weather conditions.

Friday’s A Day on the Green show in the Yarra Valley and Saturday’s show at Mt Duneed Estate near Geelong are expected to go ahead.

The chief executive of All Saints Estate, Eliza Brown, said she had been expecting 6,500 people for the event and businesses in Rutherglen would take a big financial hit.

“Not only is it tickets sales, it’s accommodation, food, petrol people filling up with petrol down the main street,” she said.

“All that money doesn’t come into the community.”

The bushfire smoke blanketing Melbourne set off a handful of smoke alarms in the city on Monday and saw air pollution worsen to “very poor”.

Worsening air quality forecast for Thursday

An Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said the compromised air quality led to a 51 per cent increase in asthma and pollution-related calls yesterday.

An MFB spokeswoman said firefighters were called to a small number of false alarms across the city due to the “smoky air conditions”.

She said the MFB was recommending building managers set their air systems to recycle to prevent smoke filtering into buildings.



Photo:

Smoke from Tasmania, East Gippsland and Victoria’s north-east created a haze over Melbourne yesterday. (ABC News: Gemma Hall)

The smoke affected air quality in Geelong, which was upgraded to “hazardous” levels yesterday afternoon but improved to “poor” by the evening.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Steven McGibbony said smoke was still lingering over Melbourne today but had cleared up “substantially”.

But he said conditions would worsen again on Thursday when an easterly wind is expected to push smoke from East Gippsland towards the city.

“Visibility was down to 300 metres yesterday in some areas but is up around 10 kilometres this morning,” he said.

External Link:

@jayawtanitrades: Smoke blanket is slowly going away in Melbourne! Air quality yesterday was hazardous and I could feel it.. started coughing all of a sudden for a couple of hours straight. Yesterday vs today images below. God bless Australia. More than 500 million animals have died

Visibility in Horsham and Mildura dropped to about 2 kilometres this morning.

An EPA spokesman said health warnings issued on Monday urging children under 14, the elderly, pregnant women and those with respiratory issues to limit time outdoors still applied.

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton yesterday recommended vulnerable people wear P2 or N25 masks if they had to be outside.

But stores appeared to be running out.

A staff member at Bunnings Collingwood said the store sold out of all P2 and N95 masks on Friday.

“We received a whole heap more on Saturday but they flew off the truck,” he said.

The smoke also prompted tennis great Novak Djokovic to suggest Australian Open organisers consider delaying this year’s event if the problem persists.

Stay across our bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


‘We can’t stop these fires’: Emergency and evacuation warnings issued across Vic, NSW


Bega 2550

Bushfire activity across south-eastern Australia has picked up as the region is swept by hot, gusty winds that authorities fear could render blazes unstoppable.

Key points:

  • Temperatures have reached into the mid-40s in parts of NSW and Victoria as strong winds fan bushfire activity
  • Authorities fear existing bushfires will spread and join and dry lightning could start new ones
  • The NSW Rural Fire Service says fires could move “frighteningly quickly” like they did on New Year’s Eve

In New South Wales, emergency warnings have already gone out for several communities who are being hit by bushfires, which have closed a stretch of the Princes Highway south of Nowra.

Further south, six evacuation notices and about a dozen emergency warnings have been issued as bushfires threaten communities in Victoria’s north-east and east.

Authorities are also concerned that the weather front sweeping the region could result in dry lightning strikes, starting new fires across parts of New South Wales and Victoria that have not already been devastated over recent days.



Photo:

Dozens of communities in East Gippsland are being threatened by bushfires. (Supplied: Australian Maritime Safety Authority)

Temperatures in parts of each state have already climbed into the 40s, with Albury-Wodonga reaching 45 degrees Celsius by 2:00pm.

Victoria’s Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville has identified the second person to die in the state’s fires as Fred Becker, a timber worker from Maramingo Creek, near Genoa in East Gippsland.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the number of people missing now stood at 21, seven fewer than the number unaccounted for 24 hours earlier.

Meanwhile, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has confirmed two people have died in the bushfires on Kangaroo Island.

The fire has burnt up to 150,000 hectares, including most of Flinders Chase National Park.

Mr Marshall expressed his condolences and said next of kin were being notified.

Almost 60 evacuees from the fire-hit Victorian coastal town of Mallacoota have arrived at Hastings, south-east of Melbourne, on the Navy training ship MV Sycamore.

Follow our live blog for updates on bushfires and evacuations.


Video: The MV Sycamore was carrying 58 people, two dogs, a cat and a rabbit.

(ABC News)

About 1,000 more people are expected to arrive on another Navy ship, HMAS Choules, later today.

Across the state around 100,000 people were urged to evacuate ahead of today’s dangerous conditions.

Fires have burned about 820,000 hectares across Victoria in recent days, and about 50 blazes are continuing to burn in the state.

“We can expect that with the winds this morning and the higher temperatures followed by this change later in the day, south-westerly change, that the fires will be quite unpredictable in their behaviour and spread and that’s going to make firefighting difficult,” State Control Centre spokesperson James Todd said.



Photo:

Evacuees gather at Batemans Bay as fire burns close to the coastline. (Supplied: Mark Cuddy)

‘We’ve never been as prepared,’ NSW Premier says

Across the border in NSW, thousands more heeded warnings to leave large parts of the NSW South Coast, from Nowra to the Victorian border and the Snowy Monaro region.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Saturday morning there were 137 bush and grass fires burning across the state, with about 60 uncontained.

More than 3,000 firefighters will be on the ground in NSW today.

“We’ve never been as prepared as we are today for the onslaught we’re likely to face due to the deteriorating conditions,” she said.

“Today is all about saving lives,” she said.

What makes a horror fire danger day?
Australia is experiencing horrendous fire weather. Find out why and what to watch out for.

Fires ‘spreading quickly’ across southern NSW

There are several fires burning at Emergency Warning level in the Snowy Mountains, close to the NSW-Victoria border.

Closer to Sydney, the Green Wattle Creek blaze is also threatening properties.

Numerous other fires are listed at “watch-and-act” level, stretching from the Kerry Ridge fire north of Sydney to Werri Berri, south of Bega.

The RFS says “several fires are spreading” in the Kosciuszko National Park.

A “temperature inversion” that has been keeping conditions cool across NSW has started to lift, with rising rising mercury and increasing winds causing headaches for firefighters.

Fires expected to spread in NSW

A total fire ban is in place across NSW with extreme fire danger in much of the state’s south-east, and authorities are warning conditions could become catastrophic.

Existing fires are expected to spread significantly under difficult conditions.

An RFS map of predicted fire paths shows a blaze at Green Valley could impact nearly the entire Mount Kosciuszko National Park with either actual fire spread or ember attacks.


Infographic:
The NSW RFS issued this map showing the predicted fire spread for January 4.
(ABC News)

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said the fires could move “frighteningly quickly”, as they did on New Year’s Eve.

“Even those areas that have already been impacted by fire, there’s still a lot of pockets among the bush that we’re quite concerned about that might flare up,” Mr Rogers said.

He pleaded with people to avoid the path of fires and head to a larger town or beach for safety.

“Our pure focus … is about the preservation of life.”

Mr Rogers warned a stretch of fire that has crossed into Victoria could return on Saturday, potentially merging with another blaze and creating a fire front stretching up to 70 kilometres.



Photo:

Locals wait for a community meeting in the town of Narooma on the NSW South Coast. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)

“We can’t stop those fires. We can’t stop the fires we already have.”

Closer to Sydney, another point of vulnerability is on the southern side of the Green Wattle Creek Blaze burning near Mittagong.

“Our strategy is to lay retardant on it ahead of it just to try and slow its progress, so it doesn’t get to places like Mittagong,” Mr Rogers said.



Photo:

Some in Mallacoota were forced to flee the flames via water. (Supplied: Via Twitter @Nic_Asher)

The RFS is also closely watching a section of the Gospers Mountain blaze, north-west of Penrith, where predictions suggest fire and ember attacks could creep towards Sydney.

Mr Rogers said there was a “breakout” there on Friday and while crews were confident of getting on top of it, the blaze remained a concern.

Huge fire fronts raging across Victoria

In Victoria, a huge complex of fires in East Gippsland stretches from north of Bairnsdale to the New South Wales border, with areas not already burnt under threat.

Another complex of fires in the Alpine region, started by dry lightning this week, is threatening a number of ski resorts and could join up with a third group of fires burning in the north-east of the state, around Corryong and Walwa.



Photo:

Scores of properties or structures have been destroyed in Victoria. (AAP Image)

There are also serious fires burning near Portland in the state’s south-west, in the Budj Bim National Park and in pine plantations at Wade Junction.

Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the state had “literally hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of active fire edge, of uncontained fire”.

“The major risk is the fires we don’t know about, the new starts,” he said.

“Crews will be so busy protecting communities that fighting new fires in dangerous conditions will be very difficult.”

The ranks of Australian crews will be bolstered by the addition of 41 firefighters from the United States today, and up to 70 aircraft will be used to attack the blazes.

Authorities are urging people across affected areas not to become complacent and to expect an escalation in bushfire behaviour later in the day.

The Bureau of Meteorology is expecting hot, dry north-westerly winds ahead of a southerly change.

The change has already reached Victoria’s south-west and crossed metropolitan Melbourne about 8:00am.

It will push into the Gippsland region — the area most affected by the recent fires — by the early afternoon and will move into the north-east of the state by evening and later on into NSW.

Temperatures on Sunday are expected to drop dramatically, into the high-teens and low-20s.

More bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Fears for 28 missing in Victoria’s bushfire-ravaged Gippsland


VIC

Up to 100,000 Victorians have been urged to leave their homes ahead of worsening bushfire danger as the number of people missing in fire-affected areas rises to 28.

Key points:

  • Six shires and four Alpine resorts will be covered by the state of disaster for a week
  • The Premier said two people had died and 28 were missing
  • For the latest information, visit the Vic Emergency website

Fires in East Gippsland and the north-east of the state have burned through 800,000 hectares, or about 3.5 per cent of the state’s area.

“We literally have hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of active edge, uncontained fire,” said Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner, Andrew Crisp.

“We’ve got a long, long way to go when it comes to fire danger in this state.”

Mr Crisp said there were fears that a wind change tomorrow could cause fires that started in the High Country in recent days to merge with fires burning in East Gippsland.

CFA chief officer Steve Warrington said strike teams of five trucks each were being placed into communities that could be impacted by fire tomorrow in hot and windy conditions.



Photo:

Fires have burned through about 3.5 per cent of Victoria’s area. (Facebook: DELWP Gippsland)

The preparations follow Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’s late-night declaration of a state of disaster for much of the eastern half of the state, the first such declaration ever in the state.

The Premier said the declaration provided “for formal evacuations of townships and areas” and sent a clear message that “if you can leave, you must leave”, and would stay in place for a week.

The declaration gives the Government powers to take possession of private property to respond to the fires, control movement in and out of the disaster area and direct any of its agencies to perform or stop performing “any function, power, duty or responsibility”.

Mr Andrews announced the declaration at a late-night media conference in Melbourne, after receiving an updated weather outlook on Thursday evening warning conditions would be even worse than earlier feared.

Follow our live blog for updates on bushfires and the evacuations.

It covers a huge part of the state’s eastern half, including parts of the East Gippsland shire, Mansfield shire, Wellington shire, Wangaratta rural shire, Towong shire, Alpine shire and the Mount Buller, Mount Hotham, Mount Stirling and Falls Creek Alpine resorts.


Infographic:
The state of disaster will remain in place for seven days over much of eastern Victoria.
(Supplied: Emergency Management Victoria)

A similar state of emergency declaration has also been made in New South Wales.

State Control Centre spokesperson James Todd there were “potentially 100,000 people across East Gippsland and the north-east that we’d like to get out of the area, out of the potential impact zone”.

On Friday afternoon, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Grainger said traffic on the roads out of fire-affected areas showed people were listening to the calls to leave.

“We certainly have very clear evidence that people have heeded the warning and we congratulate Victorians for doing that.” he said.

As easterly winds blew smoke from fires in the state’s east to Melbourne, the EPA’s chief environmental scientist Andrea Hinwood urged people who were sensitive to air pollution to take precautions.

“Now is the time to put in place your treatment plan and, where possible, reduce your exposure to the smoke so that you protect yourself,” Dr Hinwood said.

Earlier, Mr Andrews also revealed a second person had died in the crisis, but said it was too early to reveal details about their identity or the circumstances of their death.

He said on Friday morning the number of people unaccounted for in the East Gippsland region had grown from 17 to 28.

“I can confirm today that as at 9:30, there are 28 people that we cannot locate, and we are very concerned about their wellbeing,” he said.

He said a number of those among the original 17 reported missing had been located yesterday.


Video: Entire streets of homes were reduced to rubble in Mallacoota.

(ABC News)

Fifty fires burn across Victoria

Victorian fire crews are currently tackling 50 ongoing fires, mostly in East Gippsland and the state’s north-east.



Photo:

More than 780,000 hectares in Victoria have burnt so far. (ABC News: Ben Jaensch)

Mr Andrews said he wanted to send a very clear message by using the disaster declaration, which was a recommendation of the royal commission into the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

“Essentially this declaration is the first time these powers have been used because we face unprecedented risk to life and property in coming days,” Mr Andrews said.

“The fires are unprecedented in their size, their scale and the risk they pose to so many people right across affected communities.



Photo:

A chimney was all that remained of a house destroyed in a bushfire at Cudgewa. (ABC News: Matthew Doran)

“If you can leave, you must leave — if you don’t we simply cannot guarantee your safety.

“Others may be put into harm’s way in trying to protect you and you may well find yourself isolated and cut-off for an extended period of time following fire activity that will almost certainly occur tomorrow [Friday], Saturday and potentially into Sunday.”

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the coming days would bring unusually low humidity of under 10 per cent.

“What that means is that fires will travel at night,” Mr Crisp said.

“People talk about fires five years ago, and that was not the case — generally fires overnight would settle down and you could, I guess, rest and regroup, but that’s not what we’re seeing.

“We’ve had examples of that over the last few weeks — the Marthavale fire ran 24 kilometres in one night, the Corryong fire nearly 30 kilometres.”

Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said the powers allowed for arrests if people refused to evacuate or follow other police orders, but authorities were not intending to penalise people.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was confronted by angry protesters in the bushfire-hit town of Cobargo, in south-east NSW.


Video: A group of Cobargo residents vent their anger at the Prime Minister.

(ABC News)

Read the Premier’s declaration:
External Link:

Document: Premier's declaration of a state of disaster

More bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Thousands flee fire zone as south-east braces for horror weekend: As it happened


NSW

Thousands of people are on the move amid warnings Saturday will bring a repeat of the deadly New Year’s Eve firestorms in East Gippsland and NSW’s South Coast. A state of emergency will come into force in NSW tomorrow morning.

Look back at how the day unfolded.

External Link:

Live: Bushfire emergency updates

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Rescuers battle to reach cut-off Victorian communities before weekend weather hits


Melbourne 3000

Firefighters, police and the army are making extraordinary efforts to bring relief to thousands of Victorians cut off by bushfires, as they brace for extreme weekend weather which could see huge bushfires merge in the state’s east and north-east.

Key points:

The huge bushfire that struck Mallacoota is one of several destructive blazes still burning in East Gippsland, and another massive fire continues to rage near Corryong, close to the New South Wales-Victoria border.

A large navy ship has arrived at Mallacoota, where fire authorities said about 500 people could be evacuated today, as they urge people in other parts of East Gippsland to get out before conditions worsen on the weekend.

At Corryong, in Victoria’s north-east, a convoy of over 120 vehicles travelled out of the fire zone last night — more than double the number of vehicles expected.

Follow our live blog for updates on bushfires and the evacuations.



Photo:

A CFA strike team arrived in Cann River yesterday ahead of worsening conditions on the weekend. (Facebook: Joe Stephens)

Late yesterday, six patients were flown out of Mallacoota on an Australian Defence Force Black Hawk helicopter to the RAAF base in East Sale.

About a dozen smaller communities have been isolated and are running short on supplies including the town of Cann River in far eastern Victoria.



Photo:

Cann River was cut off and communications remained difficult as the fire closed in on Wednesday. (Facebook: Sherylle Holster)

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said work was underway to drop satellite phones, food and water into those communities.

But smoke and the dynamic fire situation was making it difficult.

“I know it seems quite simple to do an air drop into some of these communities, but if visibility is poor and you’ve got other aircraft that are still fighting the fire, it is very, very complex,” he said.

“We wish it was much more simple, but it isn’t.”


Video: "We need farming help": Residents devastated by fires in Victoria's north-east

(ABC News)

Red Cross relief packages, including food, water and other basics will be dropped into Cann River today.

Police officer drives through flames to help Genoa

The tiny community of Genoa, which is nestled in far eastern Victoria near the New South Wales border, has also been cut off by fire.

CFA chief officer Steve Warrington said they actually spoke to authorities in New South Wales to try to get some fire trucks in from the other side of the border.


Video: CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington says authorities are working to rescue thousands of Victorians trapped by bushfires.

(ABC News)

A police officer responded by driving 60 kilometres through the bushfires to reach the town, he said.

“A New South Wales police officer drove from Eden through the fire to get into Genoa to provide a bit of leadership into that community,” he said.

Emergency officials are trying to encourage more people to leave the fire zone before the bad weather on the weekend.

The message is clear: if you’re in a remote community anywhere near the fires, get out early.

As I waited on the Mallacoota foreshore, I felt helpless
Gus Goswell recounts the moment he and his family prepared to enter the water as a fire roared towards them like “a freight train” on New Year’s Eve.

Authorities said they were concerned they would not be able to get to these towns if they were cut off.

“Every community that is lying to the south and south-east of the Bairnsdale complex of fires is under threat,” Deputy Emergency Management Commissioner Chris Stephenson said.

“We’ll offer the opportunity to get as many people out as we can into a more comfortable place, however logistically that’s quite a challenge.

“The best options are to be in a major centre where you have the services and the things you require for your family’s welfare.”

Concerns fires around Corryong, East Gippsland could merge

At Corryong, officials are door knocking as many properties as possible warning residents to get out.

Work is being done to get generators up and operating but communications and power are still in the area.



Photo:

Burnt trees on the way into Corryong, in north-eastern Victoria. (ABC News: Ashlee Charlton)

Numerous road blocks, including along the Murray Valley Highway, remain in place.

The big threat is that the hot weather forecast for the next few days could cause the Corryong fire to merge with the East Gippsland blaze to the south and a fire in the Victorian alpine region around Bright.

Crews are also keeping an eye on the fire burning across the border in New South Wales, which has gone through areas close to Tumbarumba.


Video: A father and daughter defend their home against an ember attack at Goongerah, Victoria.

(ABC News)

Incident controller Leith McKenzie said if the Corryong and NSW fires burned as predicted, the could “suck each other in” and merge as well.

Animal welfare officers are going through the fire damaged area.

It is estimated 12,000 cattle and 6,000 sheep survived the fire but will have to be put down due to burns and other injuries.

Melbourne Fire Brigade (MFB) building assessors are checking properties in the region.

So far, around 12 homes have been lost in Cudgewa, west of Corryong.

Fears number of missing people will rise

One man is unaccounted for at this stage.

It is understood he left the Corryong relief centre in the early hours of the morning to check on his property but as of 10:30am, he hadn’t been heard from.

The fires have claimed at least one life — Buchan resident Mick Roberts, who was being remembered as a community “hero”.

At least three other people are unaccounted for across the state, but Premier Daniel Andrews warned that number was likely to rise.

Authorities have said the full scale of the damage may take days or weeks to assess.


Video: Footage revealed the extent of the destruction in Mallacoota.

(ABC News)

Country Fire Authority State Agency Commander Tony O’Day said authorities are working to access cut-off towns, where firefighters and combat agencies were also isolated.

Communities across the state’s east, where more than 500,000 hectares have been burnt, remain cut off and are running low on supplies.

“[There’s] no power, no water in many of them [the towns], but just the conditions are just too hot, too dangerous,” Mr O’Day said.

“There’ll be extensive work before most of these roads can be opened to be safe enough.”



Photo:

The scene in Mallacoota in East Gippsland on New Year’s Day. (Facebook: Claire George)

While conditions eased yesterday, Mr O’Day said this morning the fires were “by no means contained or controlled”.

Emergency authorities are working to set up containment lines before the weather heats up again tomorrow, and winds are forecast to pick up and create dangerous fire conditions again by Saturday.


Video: Much-needed water and relief supplies reached Mallacoota by boat on Wednesday.

(ABC News)

“And just the large, the sheer scale of some of these fires … the scale of them makes the task of containing them and building control lines incredibly difficult,” Mr O’Day said.

“Unfortunately these fires will continue to burn for the foreseeable future.”

More bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


I have never before experienced the helplessness I felt on the Mallacoota foreshore


Mallacoota 3892

Gus Goswell has travelled to Mallacoota for holidays for years.

He is trapped in the town with thousands of holidaymakers by a huge bushfire which burned through the town on New Year’s Eve. This is his account of his terrifying ordeal.

We had been so anxious for the dawn to arrive, but when it finally did arrive, the dawn brought us no comfort, only new fear and danger.

The long, mostly sleepless, night huddled together on the ground next to the Mallacoota foreshore had been uncomfortable, but what the dawn brought to the thousands of us trapped by fire was terrifying.



Photo:

Gus Goswell and his family, including daughter Gilly, found themselves trapped by the fires on New Year’s Eve. (Supplied: Gus Goswell)

The dawn itself was only temporary. Almost as soon as the sky began to lighten the light was extinguished.

The new day disappeared in darkness and we knew then we were in danger.

As the bush to the south-west of us exploded in flame and the fire picked up speed as it raced towards us, the smoke turned day into night in minutes.

Burnt leaves had been falling on Mallacoota through the night, now live embers were falling.

Masks and shirts tied across faces brought little relief from the choking smoke and ash.

Our eyes were full of it, our clothes smothered in it.



Photo:

The lush countryside around Mallacoota was turned to ash by the raging fires. (Supplied: Gus Goswell)

The water was no longer our comfort — suddenly it seemed like our only hope of survival.

My family — including our two-year-old daughter — and hundreds of other families, moved to the water’s edge.

We turned our backs to shield ourselves from the terrible wind whipping the fire towards us.

Many with boats were already in them.

The sense of helplessness as we waited for the fire to hit us was unlike anything I have experienced.



Photo:

A car burnt by the bushfires in the charred landscape around Mallacoota. (Supplied: Gus Goswell)

The agonizing wait for the fire to arrive

I never lost faith in the incredible firefighters out defending us and whatever else they could of Mallacoota, but we were hearing that the fire was a freight train and it was heading straight for us.

And then we saw the sky turn from black to a terrifying red, and we felt heat on our backs and our faces when we turned and we heard the fire was in the town, and for the first time I really struggled to stay optimistic.

As calmly as possible, we talked as a family about our plan for getting in the water, who would hold our daughter, who would have the dog, the shallowest paths across the water that would take us as far from the fire as possible, the importance of only getting into the water when we really had to.

And we waited for that moment.



Photo:

Clothing tied across faces provided little relief from the choking smoke, he said. (Supplied: Gus Goswell)

But somehow — for us at least — that moment which must be a moment of pure terror never arrived.

Thanks to the skill and bravery of the firefighters and what I have since read was a minor wind change, the flames never reached us.

Later in the day, thousands of us watched, horrified, as the fire destroyed houses on the other side of the lake, as flames crowned and trees exploded as the fire raced on.

Today we can still see it burning to the north and east of the town.

Today we have no power, no road out, no water from the tap that is safe to drink without boiling.

But we are safe. And so lucky.

The fire did not touch us, but it did hit so much of Mallacoota and the landscape that we love.

Streets have been devastated, dozens of houses destroyed.

Others wait for the terrifying moment, as we did

Today many Mallacoota locals are now residents in name only.

They have nowhere to reside.

The fire took their houses, their gardens, their vehicles, perhaps their pets and livestock.

I can’t imagine the feeling.



Photo:

The fire in Mallacoota destroyed everything in its path. (Twitter: Luke McCrone)

Today there are still people in East Gippsland in danger, people waiting for that terrible moment, just as we waited.

I can’t bear to think about the native animals these fires have killed, the ecosystems savaged.

We love this place, but can never know it like the locals do.

We all endured something terrible at the Mallacoota waterfront, but many others here will endure so much more in the coming days and weeks and months.

It’s they who face the task of rebuilding homes.

It’s they who face the task of revitalising the community we are lucky enough to visit each year. Please listen to them.

Gus Goswell is a former ABC journalist.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Relief for bushfire-ravaged Mallacoota as boat arrives with water, supplies


Mallacoota 3892

Some much-needed relief in the form of water and other emergency supplies has arrived by boat in the East Gippsland town of Mallacoota and a half-dozen patients were evacuated for treatment a day after destructive bushfires swept through the coastal community.

Key points:

  • About 1.6 tonnes of supplies came in by boat for the 4,000 stranded residents
  • Jann Gilbert said the loss of all of her possessions in the fire felt “surreal”
  • For the latest information, visit the Vic Emergency website

On Tuesday, about 4,000 residents sheltered on the Mallacoota foreshore under red skies as a bushfire closed in on them.

The blaze, which is still burning and threatening homes and lives near Cann River, reduced buildings along several streets to rubble, but firefighters managed to save the town’s centre.

On Wednesday afternoon, a boat arrived carrying 1.6 tonnes of water and diesel to help fuel generators in the town, which is without power.


Video: Footage has this morning revealed the extent of destruction in Mallacoota.

(ABC News)

Those in the town said dozens of homes had been destroyed as emergency crews tried to clear the road to the airport.

Jann Gilbert’s possessions were “totally incinerated” in the fire but, at the end of the day, she and her animals are safe and for that she is grateful.

“There is just simply nothing left, nothing at all, except ash,” she said.

“I think it will probably hit me sometime later. It’s a bit surreal at the moment. It hasn’t quite kicked in.”


Video: Residents filmed as the bushfire swept towards Mallacoota on New Year's Eve.

(ABC News)

She said they were confident the firefighters would contain the blaze away from the wharf and the community hall.

“But once a fire like that is upon you we would have had no choice but to get everyone into the lake. That’s the only option we had,” she said.



Photo:

Ms Gilbert said she was still in shock about the loss of her possessions in the fire. (ABC News: Elias Clure)

She blames the ferocity of the fire on climate change.

Helicopters fly out to pick up vulnerable bushfire victims

Two Black Hawk helicopters arrived in Bairnsdale to provide humanitarian support for communities cut off by the fires.

They are based at RAAF East Sale.

The first task was to transport fresh firefighters into Mallacoota and to take vulnerable patients with respiratory and other health issues out of the fire zone.

Six patients were flown to the RAAF base around 8:00pm and were met by waiting ambulances.

The patients included two young boys and several elderly people seen being taken to an ambulance on stretchers.



Photo:

Two Black Hawk helicopters have arrived at Bairnsdale to provide support for communities cut off by the fires. (ABC News: Kyle Harley)

Angela Rintoul was on holiday in the town and was relieved to find her parents’ holiday house still standing, because she said the conditions at the Red Cross relief centre were difficult.

“It was very challenging with hundreds of people [there] trying to clean my baby’s milk bottle in the toilet hand basin,” she told ABC News.

More bushfire coverage:

“You start to get worried about infection and other kinds of outbreaks that could happen.”

Ms Rintoul said some families were forced to sleep on the oval next door to the community centre and a friend’s child was sick.

“She said one of her boys was vomiting by the time they got into the shelter at 5:30am on Tuesday. Just from the smoke I guess, possibly anxiety,” she said.


Video: People are crying, coming to terms with the loss: A tourist in Mallacoota describes the aftermath.

(ABC News)

See how Wednesday, January 1 unfolded in our live blog

‘End of days’

Tony Priest has been travelling from Melbourne to Mallacoota for the last four years to play with his band at the local pub on New Year’s Eve.

He said he had never seen more “apocalyptic” conditions in his life.

Mr Priest and the five other band members defended the pub as embers rained down on the building.

“It was terrifying. Like the end of days,” he said.

He said when the ember attack hit about an hour later, the band members kept fighting to save the pub as large chunks of glowing bark “showered” down on them.

“We used a hose, we had Corona buckets filled with water,” Mr Priest said.



Photo:

Mallacoota’s CBD was saved, but a number of homes were destroyed by the blaze. (ABC News)

When the ember attack was over they started wetting towels and blocking the edges of windows to stop the smoke coming into their hotel room in the pub.

“It was hard to breathe, we thought it was the end,” he said.

East Gippsland incident controller Ben Rankin said the breadth of the fires and the impact on communities had exceeded his expectations.

“I mentioned it was similar to Black Saturday and I think it has turned out to be that sort of impact for Gippsland,” he said.

The state’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said at least 10 homes had been destroyed in Mallacoota.

Business owner Mark Peters returned from the foreshore to find he had lost his home and bed and breakfast in the fires, and told RN Breakfast the town looked like a war zone.

“There’s nothing, not a thing. It’s all black, smoky, all the trees are burnt out, no leaves left on them. Everywhere that used to have koalas and bell birds and that sort of thing, everything’s gone,” he said.



Photo:

Residents returned home from the foreshore on Tuesday afternoon to find properties razed. (Twitter: Luke McCrone)

The town is still without power, and a “boil water” advice is in place for the area, as authorities urged residents the town’s reserves were low.

The town, usually a tourist destination in the summer, is in Victoria’s far east and accessible only by the Princes Highway — which remains cut off.

“It’s already a remote location, it’s always been — that’s the gem of Mallacoota,” said Gippsland MP Darren Chester.


Video: About 4,000 people camped out along Mallacoota's foreshore as the fire approached on Tuesday.

(ABC News)

“It’s difficult to get to, you get there and you escape life and you have a wonderful holiday.

“Things have turned pretty bad in the last 48 hours.”

Similar scenes were seen on Tuesday further west at Sarsfield and Clifton Creek, where a separate bushfire tore through on Monday.

Mark Trellegas told the ABC the sky was black in the early hours of Tuesday morning, which then turned “blood red” as the fire closed in.

He said the thousands of people huddled down by the water were calm and quiet and people offered food and drinks to their neighbours.

He said nearly everyone knew someone who had lost a home in the town, and he suspected it would take “many years” to rebuild the town.



Photo:

Flames continued to burn in Mallacoota on Wednesday morning. (Supplied: Claire George)

Resident Don Ashby told ABC Gippsland he had lost his house and estimated about 50 homes had been destroyed.

“It’s just stuff. It’s an opportunity to build a new home and fill it full of new junk,” he told ABC Gippsland.

“Mallacoota community are a bunch of triers and a bunch of people who get on with it. We all pull together when we need to, and that’s pretty clearly what’s happening here.”



Photo:

This utility pole was reduced to ashes. (Facebook: Claire George)

Although the fire passed through the town on Tuesday afternoon, the area remains cut off and under an emergency warning for the blaze.

“The immediate worry has passed, but … we’re under this threat until the next time we get some really heavy rain,” Mr Ashby said.



Photo:

Residents have been gathering in an evacuation centres for town meetings. (Supplied)

Premier Daniel Andrews said defence helicopters would be used to provide a “shift change” for firefighters.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Military deployed to help bushfire-hit Victorians as four people remain missing


Melbourne 3000

Military aircraft and naval ships will be deployed to support fire crews and stage evacuations in bushfire-ravaged areas of Victoria, the Federal Government says.

Key points:

  • Bushfires are still causing destruction in parts of Gippsland and near the NSW-Victoria border
  • Lightning has been starting more fires in the Alps
  • For the latest information, visit the Vic Emergency website

Seven emergency warnings remain in place for bushfires that have destroyed dozens of properties in the state’s east and north-east.

Four people remain unaccounted for.

Authorities have confirmed 43 properties — including homes and a primary school — have been destroyed by bushfire in Gippsland, where more than 400,000 hectares have been burned.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds have agreed to deploy a fleet of aircraft and ships at the request of the Victorian Government.

As part of the deal, the Australian Defence Force will send Black Hawks, Chinooks, fixed-wing aircraft and Navy vessels for firefighting support and evacuations.

See how the day unfolded in our blog

Earlier, Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said 19 buildings had been destroyed in the farming district of Sarsfield, and 24 in the neighbouring town of Buchan.

An unknown number of properties have also been destroyed by fire in the Corryong area, near the NSW-Victoria border.


Video: Thousands gathered at Mallacoota beach as the fire front approached the town.

(ABC News)

Situation remains dangerous

Aerial footage revealed Clifton Creek Primary School, in East Gippsland, was among the properties destroyed.

“The danger is not over,” Mr Crisp said, describing the situation as “dynamic and dangerous”.

“There’s a lot of fire edge.”



Photo:

Clifton Creek Primary School, in East Gippsland, was among the properties destroyed. (ABC News)


Video: Some Mallacoota residents took boats into the water as the bushfire hit the town. (Facebook: Cubin')

(ABC News)

In the holiday town of Mallacoota, thousands of people huddled on the beach this morning as flames approached the area — but CFA chief officer Steve Warrington said the main bushfire front had since passed the town.

“I understand there was a public cheer down at the jetty when that was announced,” he said.

But he said fires continued to burn in the area, and firefighters were still extinguishing houses on the outskirts of the town.



Photo:

People sought refuge at Mallacoota’s boat ramp as bushfires closed in on the town. (Instagram: @travelling_aus_family)

Samantha Corbett was on holiday in Mallacoota with her family and joined the thousands of people who sought shelter at the boat ramp as the bushfire hit the town.

She said “many, many spot fires” had started in and around the town on Tuesday afternoon and there was “a lot of smoke”.

“We have watched houses burn today. It’s been gut wrenching,” she said.



Photo:

The major bushfire front has passed Mallacoota but fires are still burning around the town. (Supplied: Samantha Corbett)

“The CFA are working tirelessly. They roll in, fill up then roll straight back out. Where we can we are clapping and cheering them on. I can’t thank the emergency services here enough.”

Thousands of people have been left without power in East Gippsland, which AusNet said may not be restored for days.

‘There’s a chance we’ve lost everything’

Thousands of holidaymakers and residents left East Gippsland for safer locations after authorities issued multiple warnings earlier this week.

Clifton Creek resident Shannon Hutchings’s family of six left town for Lakes Entrance with their pets on Monday.

She believes the fire has since burned through their property twice.



Photo:

Shannon Hutchings, pictured with two of her daughters at Lakes Entrance, fears her family has lost everything. (ABC News)

“There’s a chance we’ve lost everything,” she said.

“We can’t actually get on to the property [because] there’s massive trees down in the way, so even if the fire’s not in the area we can’t actually get through.

“We are really concerned that what it didn’t take the first time, if there’s anything left, it’ll grab the second go around.”

As the prospect of homelessness looms, Ms Hutchings and her husband are among fire-affected residents working out where to stay and how to take care of their families.

“We’re finding alternative places for our kids to go,” she said.

“We have one [son] going to a nursing home at Paynesville because he has physical special needs — we can’t provide for that here and we have none of his equipment,” she said.

“We have two going to stay with some beautiful friends in Melbourne and we’ve yet to figure out whether we’ll keep the fourth one with us.”


Video: Emergency Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the bushfire threat was not over yet.

(ABC News)

Buildings razed on outskirts of Corryong

Fires are surrounding the town of Corryong, east of Albury-Wodonga in Victoria’s north-east, where the CFA’s Mr Warrington said people were experiencing a “high degree of anxiety”.

He said there were numerous property losses on the outskirts of the town.


Video: People were evacuated from Corryong on Tuesday night, after a bushfire leapt over the New South Wales border.

(ABC News)

“It is isolated and we can get limited trucks in and out,” Mr Warrington said.

He said the good news was that a cool change had passed through the town.



Photo:

Communities at Walwa and Corryong were threatened by the fire. (Supplied: Aaron Benbow)

“So still a high degree of anxiety … and a lot of firefighting activity occurring again with numerous property losses, particularly on the outskirts of the town in Corryong.”

An evacuation centre was set up at Corryong College.



Photo:

Fires engulfed areas near Walwa overnight on Monday. (Twitter: Declan Kuch)

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.

In an update at 6:50pm, Luke Heagerty of the State Control Centre said people in the area should shelter indoors.

Lightning sparks new blazes in the Alps

Watch and act warnings have been issued after a band of lightning strikes started about a dozen new fires in Victoria’s Alpine region.

Mr Warrington said those fires, pushing into areas near Mount Howitt, Mount Buller, and Jamieson, were also a cause for concern.

An updated emergency warning was issued at 3:50pm for a bushfire in the Upper Snowy Cluster near Corryong and Colac Colac.

Lightning strikes are still hitting Victoria’s High Country and there are fears they could spark new fires.

Army, American experts called in to help

Commissioner Crisp said authorities were considering using helicopters to fly in food and other supplies to people cut off by the fires and related road closures.

“We still have communities that are isolated,” he said.

“We’re doing everything we can to get supplies down there to ensure that we can look after those people.”



Photo:

One of the properties razed in the Sarsfield area. (ABC News)

Fire services in the United States and Canada had been asked to provide “specialist aviation resources” to help firefighting efforts, he said.

Army personnel will join officers from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) to conduct impact assessments in affected areas.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Flames rip through towns, fears death toll will rise as bushfires rage on


VIC

Huge fires continue to rage in Victoria and NSW, with two people confirmed to have died as flames destroyed parts of the town of Cobargo this morning.

Over the border in East Gippsland, thousands of people were forced to take shelter on the waterfront of the town of Mallacoota.

Look back through how the day unfolded.

External Link:

Victoria fires live blog

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news




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