NSW NYE bushfires claim fourth life

UPDATE @ 10.45AM | FOUR people have now been confirmed dead after bushfires raged through the New South Wales south Coast over the last 24 hours.

A man’s body was found in a burnt out car a few kilometres off from the highway at Yatte Yattah near Lake Conjola on the south coast.

Authorities say the man’s identity won’t be known for some time.


It follows the death of a father and son yesterday and a volunteer firefighter on Monday.

Meanwhile, a 72-year-old man remains unaccounted for at Belowra, about 50km north west of Cobargo, while authorities admit they are still struggling to reach many others suffering burns in cut off, remote communities across the state’s south.

EARLIER @ 8.00AM | NEW South Wales authorities have confirmed the death toll from the bushfire crisis in the state’s south has now risen to three.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons also told the press conference on Wednesday they had graves fears for one other person still missing.

“Three people have lost their lives as a result of these fires and another person we still have grave concerns,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.

“[We have] limited access to the remote area to try and identify and confirm one way or the other the status of that person,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.

“We also have a very real challenge at the moment with a couple of isolated communities where we have reports of injuries and burn injuries to members of the public.

“We haven’t been able to get access via roads or via aircraft.. nor can the people in these areas get out.

“We’ve had some limited conversations with the individuals and local first aid is being applied but it’s a priority for us today with the ambulance and the relevant authorities to try and get medical attention to those people as soon as possible.

“We have also heard of a number of people self-presenting to hospitals, receiving treatment from ambulance services in the field and being conveyed to hospitals throughout yesterday.”

More than 3000 firefighters have been deployed to the region.

“We are aware of heavy tolls in terms of damage and destruction,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.

Crews will be making the most of the milder weather conditions today to clear up roads and restore vital infrastructure like power before conditions worsen later in the week.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said conditions would be milder today compared with yesterday’s horror weather.

“Today our key message is there’s a lot of emphasis put into firstly back-burning, to contain the fires near communities as much as possible, taking advantage of the milder conditions – secondly to try to get that infrastructure up and moving – for example, we know that telecommunications is difficult at this stage, that there’s been damage to towers but also the sheer congestion of people contacting people in those areas resulted in telecommunications being very difficult,” she said.

“We ask people not to worry if they can’t contact their loved ones or friends. We ask people to be patient and the deputy commissioner from the police will be able to update us on the hotline people can contact or how people can feed into a system that allows loved ones to connect with each other given the telecommunications challenges we’re facing.

“Today will also be a day of being able to clean up and clear local roads where possible. A lot of the terrain where the fires struck yesterday in the south coast were communities which were isolated, meaning there is only one road in and out, so there will be every effort made today to make some of the roads safe, but we ask everybody to please look up the live traffic websites, to please heed to local advice given, because we don’t want anyone to suffer loss or to suffer serious injury because of trees coming down, because of wires still causing dangerous circumstances or roads being too unsafe to travel on. We want to encourage people who are in safer areas, who want to move around and move back home, to do so, but they have to wait to make sure they get that clear tick before they move to make sure everybody stays as safe as possible.”

The Premier also warned the state is not out of the woods yet.

“We are assuming that on Saturday weather conditions will be at least as bad as what they were yesterday and that’s something all of us have to brace ourselves for,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“That’s why all of our people on the ground, thousands of them, are taking advantage of the milder conditions to make us as well prepared as possible on Saturday when any of these firer fronts can again exacerbate and cause damage.”

As the bushfire emergency continues, people are urged to obey direction of emergency services and to monitor the Rural Fire Service NSW website www.rfs.gov.au and www.livetraffic.com for road closures.

Emergency services are also reminding the community not to contact Triple Zero (000) unless there is an emergency.

If you are concerned about a loved one in a bushfire impacted area, visit https://register.redcross.org.au.