Tag: Lake Conjola
Seven people have died and 176 homes have been destroyed by devastating bushfires that hit southern New South Wales on Wednesday.
- Death toll expected to rise as number of people killed reaches seven
- RFS says 176 homes have been destroyed with 89 homes lost in Conjola Park
- Karen Lissa thought she was going to die when a bushfire swept through her street
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) confirmed that three more bodies had been found after the earlier deaths of four people.
On Wednesday, the bodies of a father and son were found in Cobargo — it is believed they died while trying to defend their property.
The body of a man was found in a burnt-out car on a road off the Princes Highway at Yatte Yattah near Lake Conjola.
Volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul, 28, died after his truck flipped in the Green Valley blaze in Jingellic, 70 kilometres east of Albury near the NSW-Victoria border.
NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Worboys on Wednesday said three more bodies were found at Lake Conjola.
“Sadly, we can report today that police have confirmed a further three deaths as a result of the fires on the South Coast,” Deputy Commissioner Worboys said.
“Police are also at Lake Conjola now, where a house has been destroyed by fire and the occupant of that home is still unaccounted for. This goes on the back of the four deaths reported yesterday.”
A 70-year-old man was found dead outside a home 6km west of Lake Conjola.
The body of a man was found in a vehicle in Sussex Inlet this morning while a body was found outside a home at Coolagolite.
Meanwhile, a 72-year-old man remains unaccounted for at Belowra, about 50km north west of Cobargo, and a 70-year-old woman remains unaccounted for at Conjola Park.
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said he expected the death toll to rise this afternoon.
“The preliminary advice is that we will, sadly, see the number of people, the number of lives lost, that will climb this afternoon,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
The RFS also confirmed at least 176 homes had been destroyed.
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- Coming back from holidays? Here’s what you need to know about the Australian bushfires
Some of the worst loses were suffered in Conjola Park, where 89 homes were destroyed, and Malua Bay, where 40 homes were lost.
Deputy RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said that total was “by no means the end”.
‘You just got through all these emotions’
Lake Conjola resident Karen Lissa said she thought she was going to die when a bushfire swept through her street.
“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.”
Some residents were not as lucky, as towns ravaged by bushfires were left “unrecognisable” and thousands of NSW South Coast residents and travellers remained anxious as authorities began a stocktake of Wednesday’s devastation.
Helen Dwyer said there was hardly any time to react as her retirement home was destroyed.
“We didn’t have time to pack anything. We probably weren’t as well prepared as we should have been … it was just so ferocious and quick,” she said.
“We sat down at the lake most of the day, and came back up in the evening and can’t believe how many, in our street, all the houses that’ve gone.”
Karen Freer from Canberra remained stranded in Batehaven, just outside Batemans Bay.
Her phone battery had died and like many across the coastal towns, she was anxious about what would happen next.
“There’s no internet, we cannot access the RFS website and I know everyone is doing their absolute best, but we have no information,” Ms Freer said.
“We don’t know where the fire is … we just don’t know the current situation.”
Federal MP Fiona Phillips said the scale of destruction in the Batemans Bay area had been enormous.
“It’s just been absolute devastation,” she said.
“The building loss we believe around the Batemans Bay area and Mogo is in the hundreds. It’s very, very significant.
“The industrial area at Batemans Bay has certainly suffered significant damage and the Mogo CBD is unrecognisable.”
Commissioner Fitzsimmons said it was too early to determine the extent of the damage, but “was aware of heavy tolls in terms of damage and destruction”.
Residents forced to flee to the beach
Also particularly hit was Conjola Park, north of Ulladulla, where early assessments showed more than 50 properties were completely razed.
The Currowan bushfire ripped through the region on New Year’s Eve, forcing many residents to flee to the beach.
Dozens of cars in the Lake Conjola area, north of Ulladulla, were also seen by an ABC reporter to be destroyed in the region.
He said cars were found melted in the street and paint from vehicles was draining down the road.
Large trees were seen fallen across roads in the town and powerlines were down.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it had been “a very horrible day for NSW in terms of the fire conditions”.
She said fire crews would be taking advantage of easing weather conditions to conduct backburning and restored power to critical infrastructure.
More than 100 fires were burning in the state this morning, seven of those at watch and act level.
On Tuesday, residents south of Nowra were warned they could be without power or telecommunications for two days.
“We ask people not to worry if they can’t contact their loved ones or friends,” Ms Berejiklian said.