Residents and tourists in the New South Wales south coast town of Eden have been told to evacuate if they are not able to defend themselves.
Dozens of people have taken refuge on Eden’s wharf but police warned their safety could not be guaranteed.
“There is an imminent risk to the area of Eden,” a police officer told a meeting of gathered residents and tourists on Sunday morning.
“This is not considered a safe place to be,” he said several times.
“If you’ve not got transport out of Eden, transport will be made available for you to be transported to a safe location,” he said.
Police have urged people to go to Merimbula and Bega where evacuation centres are located.
The officer added that there was no safe roads to head south.
Buses carrying residents and their pets have started leaving Eden, but others have defied the advice and opted to stay on their boats that are docked at the wharf.
“We have a few hoses and pumps on the boat, hopefully it should be alright,” one resident Grant told SBS News.
Resident Lois Clark was undecided about whether to go or stay.
“It’s going to take an hour [to get to Bega]… what if we’re caught in traffic.. and there’s no services to help?
“If the services are staying here, then I’m staying.”
Up to 30 people isolated
At 2:15pm Sunday the RFS reported that 148 fires were burning in across NSW with 60 not contained and one at emergency level.
Firefighters continued through the afternoon to access trapped rural communities that have been cut off after a bushfire “blew up” near the Victorian border.
As many as 30 people may be isolated in the small village of Wonboyn on the NSW south coast after the 52,000-hectare Border Fire tore through the region.
“There’s a search and rescue operation for those who may still be trapped in townships such as Wonboyn,” RFS spokesman Ben Shepherd told the ABC on Sunday afternoon.
“Indications are (that) there were at least 20 to 30 people who were at the Rural Fire Service shed at Wonboyn. We are working to get access to them.”
Bega-based RFS liaison Greg Potts said Wonboyn residents had sheltered successfully inside the shed and firefighters were now planning how to get supplies to them.
“Wonboyn and north Wonboyn came under direct attack. The residents there – 20 remain sheltered successfully in the RFS shed.
“We are working with those communities to look at all sorts of arrangements to get fresh food and provisions into them, probably by sea.”
Bega Valley Shire Council spokesman Ian Campbell said the region was living under “horrible” skies turned orange by the fires.
“These terrible skies extend from the north of our shire to the south of our shire. They are truly horrible skies to live under.”
Mr Potts said the border fire “blew up” on Saturday night when a southerly wind change swept through.
“We saw extraordinary fire behaviour last night,” he said.
“The fire basically created its own weather and ran at an extraordinary speed from the NSW border.”
Mr Potts said there was “no margin for safety” as crews battled the blaze.
“At one stage the border fire was moving at 6km/h. The lack of visibility is making aerial reconnaissance impossible.”