2 Missing After Horror Fire Day in NSW

AAP
By AAP
January 5, 2020Australiashare
2 Missing After Horror Fire Day in NSW
RFS Trucks gather in front of the RFS station in Bodalla, Australia, on Jan. 4, 2020. (Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Two people are missing in remote fire-scorched regions of NSW as hundreds of people brace to discover the fate of their homes.

Showers have brought some relief to firefighters but the Rural Fire Service warns the rain won’t put out the largest and most dangerous blazes before conditions again deteriorate later this week.

At least 60 homes were destroyed in Saturday’s blazes, taking to 576 the number of houses razed since New Year’s Eve.

The RFS expects hundreds more will be confirmed lost in coming days, as assessment teams reach the hardest-hit towns. Areas thought to be hardest hit on Saturday included Bundanoon, Wingello, Batlow, Adelong, the Jervis Bay area, Boydtown, Kiah, Wonboyn, Towamba and Cabramurra.

RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons on Monday told reporters two people are missing after Saturday’s fires—one south of Bombala and another to the west of Bedalla, both in southern NSW.

Police and emergency services are attempting to locate the two people.

More than 135 bushfires were burning across NSW on Monday, including almost 70 uncontained. Almost 2500 firefighters are in the field.

“I don’t think it will be too long before we are up over five million hectares of largely forested country burning along the Great Dividing Range from the Queensland border to the Victorian border,” Fitzsimmons said.

“Overnight, with some of the thunderstorm activity, we have seen localised shower activity and we are expecting to see some of that over the coming days and less so once we get through to warm conditions later in this week.”

Conditions on Friday could again surpass 40 degrees Celcius, prompting severe fire danger.

In the far south, Eden residents were able to return to their homes on Sunday as crews continued to battle the border fire which has scorched 271,000 hectares since igniting west of Victorian town Mallacoota.

Fire danger ratings on Monday will be high or low-moderate across much of the state, with only parts of the state’s north experiencing “very high” risk.

The Bureau of Meteorology is expecting some showers to cooler conditions across fire grounds in the state’s south.

“Though not a huge amount, that (rain) should slow down the fires,” duty forecaster Jake Phillips told AAP on Sunday.

Eighteen people, including three firefighters, have died in the NSW bushfires since October.

At least 1,482 homes, 100 facilities and 2,339 outbuildings such as sheds have been confirmed destroyed across NSW since July. Close to 20,000 buildings have been saved.

Fitzsimmons said the RFS was identifying roles for deployed Australian Defence Force personnel to carry out throughout the week.

NSW Transport Minister and Bega MP Andrew Constance, meanwhile, called on state and federal government to get support staff into fire-ravaged areas as soon as possible as communities grapple with “unimaginable grief.”

“We have to get welfare offices into the people and I know that’s happening now,” Constance told the Seven Network on Monday.

“We just have to get in there, start to rebuild and start getting on—we have great mayors who have been working around the clock and also been fire affected themselves.”

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