Horror bushfire conditions will return with a vengeance on Saturday, with 40C temperatures and gusty winds set to create worse conditions than this week’s blazes.
In the wake of devastating infernos which claimed the lives of as many as eight people on the NSW south coast and Victoria’s East Gippsland region, authorities have warned it’s only going to get worse at the weekend.
Firefighters and their Defence Force reinforcements had a welcome reprieve from the blazes on New Year’s day with volunteers desperately trying to take advantage of cooler weather.
At least 200 homes have been destroyed on the NSW south coast and the main streets of towns such as Cobargo and Mogo are unrecognisable.
But NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today told reporters the forecast is grim: ‘We are assuming that on Saturday weather conditions will be at least as bad as what they were yesterday,’ she said.
Temperatures will hit 45C in some part of the country as horror conditions are expected for Saturday
The town of Cobargo, where Mr Salway and his son died on Monday bravely battling to defend their homes, has been leveled
‘That is something all of us have to brace ourselves for.’
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Agata Imielska explained to Daily Mail Australia how conditions will be similar to Tuesday – with extremely hot temperatures followed by powerful gusts.
‘Yesterday temperatures peaked before a southerly came through,’ she said. ‘Saturday will be the next big day to look out for.’
The mercury will start to rise on Friday when ‘large areas’ of the state will have temperatures of more than 40C and these hot conditions will carry over to Saturday.
A southerly is expected to come through during the late afternoon and the strong winds expected will pose issues for firefighters.
Several bushfire-ravaged communities in NSW have greeted the new year under immediate threat
‘The dry and strong winds will make the blazes burning across the state flare and drive them in a new direction,’ the forecaster said.
She said the winds will also cause embers to move further and pose a significant issue for people facing the flames and people need to be wary.
Despite the cooler conditions parts of the state – including the north west of the Great Dividing Range, are still ‘quite warm’.
Hazardous smoke conditions are also expected following the southerly change but the impact will depend on which part of the state you are in
Today, authorities confirmed three people are dead and there are grave fears for a fourth person in the NSW South Coast blazes.
Cobargo has been destroyed by fires on Tuesday after blazes ripped through the town and burned several buildings
In the wake of devastating infernos which claimed the lives of as many as eight people on the NSW south coast and Victoria’s East Gippsland region, authorities have warned it’s only going to get worse at the weekend
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today told reporters the forecast is grim
Firefighters have confirmed Dairy farmer Patrick Salway, 29, and his father Robert, 63, are among those dead after they tried to save their property in Cobargo, near Bega. The third person confirmed dead was found in a motor vehicle in Yatte Yattah, west of Lake Conjola.
One hundred fires are blazing across New South Wales as of Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, hope is fading for four people who have not been heard from in 24 hours in the Gippsland holiday region on the Victorian coast, following the deadly New Year’s Eve blaze.
The fires in Cobargo not only destroyed homes and buildings but two men lost their lives
Cobargo wasn’t the only town destroyed – Batemans Bay was also devastated, according to local Federal MP
There are 46 fires still burning and 43 properties have been destroyed in the popular holiday destination.
After a day sheltering on the beach, tourists and locals in Mallacoota spent the night sleeping in a local cinema.
Many spent New Year’s Eve on the town’s jetty and were told to be ready to get in the water at a moment’s notice to keep safe.
Those in the NSW holiday towns of Bateman’s Bay and Bermagui also fled to evacuation centres or the beaches on Tuesday.
The town of Cobargo, where Mr Salway and his son died on Monday bravely battling to defend their homes, has been leveled.
Patrick Salway, 29, (pictured with his pregnant wife Renee) died fighting the fires with his father Robert Salway
Bereaved widow Renee Salway took to social media on Tuesday (pictured) and said she is ‘broken’. ‘I love you now, I love you still, I always have and I always will,’ she wrote
Batemans Bay has also been ‘absolutely destroyed,’ according to local Federal MP Fiona Phillips.
‘It’s just been absolute devastation. The building loss we believe around the Batemans Bay area and Mogo is in the hundreds. It’s very, very significant,’ she said, according to the ABC.
‘The industrial area at Batemans Bay has certainly suffered significant damage and the Mogo CBD is unrecognisable.’
Mr Salway was expecting a second child with his pregnant wife Renee, who paid tribute to her husband on Tuesday night, telling friends she was ‘broken’.
‘I love you now, I love you still, I always have and I always will,’ she wrote.
‘I will see you again Patrick, my best friend. Hope you are up there ‘fixing things in the stars tonight’.’
A telecommunications outage left families unable to contact loved ones in fire-ravaged areas.
One hundred fires are blazing across New South Wales as of Wednesday morning
‘No communication is a rarity in today’s world so it’s an uncomfortable feeling,’ Melbourne man Nic Baxter told AAP on Tuesday evening, as he waited to hear from his father in Batemans Bay.
Military aircraft and vessels are continuing to assist emergency services on Wednesday in New South Wales and Victoria.
Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service Shane Fitzsimmons said there were ‘literally thousands of people taking refuge on the beaches’ after being trapped by blazes.
Army Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters were deployed to rescue thousands stranded on a beach in the fire-ravaged area.
US and Canada are understood to have been asked to provide ‘specialist aviation resources’ to help Australia’s emergency efforts.
Waterbombing aircraft helped efforts to stop a 250ha blaze reaching residential homes at Blue Haven on the Central Coast.
Total fire bans are in place for Southern Slopes, Southern Ranges and Central Ranges on Wednesday, ahead of predicted worsening conditions over the weekend.
Multiple property losses are likely but it will take several days to assess all the losses, the RFS says.
Volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul (pictured with his wife Megan) was tragically killed when a 10-tonne truck rolled on Monday
The towns of Fishermans Paradise, Broulee and Mogo, which is home to a popular zoo, have experienced significant damage.
Meanwhile major roads, including several parts of the Princes Highway linking south coast communities, are likely to remain closed for some time due to hazards.
NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer Samuel McPaul also lost his life after the firetruck he was travelling in was lifted from the ground by a ‘fire tornado’, which flipped the truck on its roof and trapped the three volunteer firemen inside.
The newlywed was expecting his first child.
Around 30,000 tourists as well as 45,000 locals were told to leave the East Gippsland region on Sunday in what was poised to be one of the biggest mass evacuations in Australia’s history.
AUSTRALIA’S FIVE DAY WEATHER FORECAST:
Thursday: Min 21, Max 24
Friday: Min 22, Max 28
Saturday: Min 21, Max 33
Sunday: Min 22, Max 26
Monday: Min 21, Max 24
Thursday: Min 23, Max 31
Friday: Min 22, Max 31
Saturday: Min 21, Max 31
Sunday: Min 21, Max 31
Monday: Min 22, Max 31
Thursday: Min 15, Max 26
Friday: Min 15, Max 35
Saturday: Min 22, Max 29
Sunday: Min 15, Max 19
Monday: Min 15, Max 24
Thursday: Min 15, Max 34
Friday: Min 25, Max 42
Saturday: Min 19, Max 25
Sunday: Min 14, Max 23
Monday: Min 13, Max 27
Source: Bureau of Meteorology
Thursday: Min 15, Max 23
Friday: Min 13, Max 25
Saturday: Min 17, Max 28
Sunday: Min 11, Max 22
Monday: Min 11, Max 24
Thursday: Min 17, Max 26
Friday: Min 13, Max 24
Saturday: Min 13, Max 28
Sunday: Min 17, Max 36
Monday: Min 19, Max 32
Thursday: Min 26, Max 34
Friday: Min 26, Max 35
Saturday: Min 26, Max 35
Sunday: Min 26, Max 34
Monday: Min 26, Max 34
Thursday: Min 13, Max 35
Friday: Min 15, Max 38
Saturday: Min 18, Max 42
Sunday: Min 18, Max 34
Monday: Min 15, Max 23