The Rural Fire Service (RFS) says properties have been destroyed by an immense bushfire in the Snowy Monaro region of NSW which continues to burn uncontrollably.
The properties lost were all in the Bumbalong area, between Bredbo and Michelago, where the Clear Range fire is still raging at emergency level.
It is not yet known how many properties were lost.
Tune in to ABC local radio:
- Batemans Bay/Moruya – 103.5 FM
- Bega 810 AM
- Eden 106.3 FM
- Cooma 1602 AM
- Jindabyne 95.5 FM
- Bombala 94.1 FM
- Thredbo 99.9 FM
- Canberra 666 AM
Dangerously high temperatures have been a catalyst for aggressive fire behaviour and some blazes have combined and created their own weather systems.
Around noon a spot fire from the huge Orroral Valley bushfire in the ACT jumped into NSW and sparked the Clear Range fire.
The Orroral Valley fire was accidentally ignited by a military helicopter this week and has ignited several fires nearby.
There is an immediate threat to properties and lives in the areas of Bredbo, Colinton and Michelago and the Monaro Highway has been closed from Canberra to Cooma.
ABC reporter Phil Williams has seen many large unattended spot fires around Colington which the RFS are simply too stretched to battle.
The RFS is using 16 water bombing aircraft across the Clear Range and Orroral Valley fires.
Further south in the Bega Valley, there is a cluster of fires which are generating pyro-convective columns with lightning.
The Postmans Trail fire and the Big Jack Mountain fire are threatening residents in the areas of Mount Durragh, Tantawangalo, Wyndham, Burragate, New Buildings and Rocky Hall.
A nearby fire north of Cathcart has also burning at emergency level all afternoon but was downgraded to Watch and Act around 7.00pm.
“[The weather systems] are obviously dangerous and create increased hazards and volatility,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
Firefighters have all been issued with safety alerts and told to seek refuge when appropriate.
The Border Fire, just north of the Victorian border and which has been burning for weeks, has also flared up and is putting the same communities at risk.
“Crews are extremely stretched out there, and we need to be mindful of their safety too,” RFS public liaison officer Marty Webster said.
The RFS has warned people to stay off the roads and protect themselves from the heat of the fires at home.
“We are no way near the end,” RFS public liaison officer Aaron Howard said.
Bega Shire Council operations manager Ian Campbell said the surrounding communities have been preparing for today and evacuated early.
“There’s around 120 people at the Bega evacuation centre and around 25 people at the Bermagui surf club now,” he said.
“But most people are with friends and family.”
The Erskine Creek fire in the Blue Mountains also flared this afternoon but is not close to any properties.
The blaze has been burning for several weeks in the catchment to the north of Warragamba Dam and south of Bullaburra.
The RFS says conditions will not ease until much later tonight as north-westerly winds dominate until around midnight.
Tomorrow, temperatures are expected to drop to around the mid-20s on the firegrounds and the winds will not be as strong, according to the BOM.