THE biggest evacuation in Australia’s history is currently underway, with thousands of residents and holidaymakers being told to leave bushfire areas across NSW before the crisis worsens.
The NSW Premier has declared a third State of Emergency and the NSW Rural Fire Service has issued a total fire ban for NSW today and tomorrow, due to an extreme fire risk in many areas.
Police and emergency services are again urging tourists on the state’s South Coast and in the Snowy Mountains to leave the area ahead of dangerous fire conditions predicted for tomorrow.
The RFS has warned that conditions in Southern NSW could be as bad as or worse than New Year’s Eve.
There are currently 165 bush or grass fires burning across the state, and 47 of those are uncontained.
As such, leave notices have been issued for holidaymakers on the South Coast and Shoalhaven areas, anyone in the Batlow area, as well as Kosciuszko National Park, which has been closed by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The deadline to leave Kosciuszko National Park, including resorts and all other places located within Kosciuszko National Park, is 10am today.
To allow safe passage for travellers out of these areas, the NSW Police Force will be working closely with Transport for NSW to manage controlled access to various arterial roads.
State Emergency Operations Controller, Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys, said it is not too late to leave, so if you don’t need to be in the area, now’s the time to make a plan to get out.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is for anyone who doesn’t need to be in these areas to get out as soon as possible,” Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said.
“Given the large number of people making their way out, significant delays are expected, meaning it will take a lot longer to get home than usual, which means you need to make sure you have plenty of fuel, a fully-charged mobile phone, snacks, and water.
“I’ll also reiterate that that your usual travel route may not be safe or accessible – or roads could close at short notice – so, check road closure information and keep checking them along the way.”
Meanwhile, NSW Police have confirmed a taskforce has been set up to investigate the recent fires on the state’s South Coast.
Strike Force Indarra will investigate all aspects of the fires, including the six fatalities that occurred in the District, loss of livestock, properties damaged and destroyed, and the cause of the fires.
The investigation will be assisted by detectives from the Arson Unit’s Strike Force Tronto, State Crime Command, and across Southern Region.
Visit www.livetraffic.com for information on road closures and incidents.
The community is also reminded that the Public Information and Inquiry Centre (PIIC), is open to assist members of the public in relation to bush fire information for these areas.
The telephone number to call is 1800 227 228.
Information specifically relating to the bushfires can be obtained by contacting the Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737 or online: https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/