1 Jan 2020

'Horrible day for NSW': Three dead, dozens of properties destroyed in Australia bushfires

11:36 am on 1 January 2020

Australia's NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has confirmed another death during yesterday's bushfire emergency on the state's South Coast.

Firefighters hose down the area as they battle against bushfires around the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales on December 31, 2019.

Firefighters hose down the area as they battle against bushfires around the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales on December 31, 2019. Photo: AFP

RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said three people died yesterday and another remains missing.

"We have confirmed overnight that we've identified three people having lost their lives as a result of these fires and another person we still have grave concerns for," he said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it had been "a very horrible day for NSW in terms of the fire conditions".

She said fire crews would be taking advantage of easing weather conditions to conduct backburning and restored power to critical infrastructure.

A significant stretch of South Coast between Nowra and Moruya remains without power or telecommunications.

"We ask people not to worry if they can't contact their loved ones or friends," Berejiklian said.

Fire conditions are expected to deteriorate again this weekend.

"We are assuming that on Saturday weather conditions will be at least as bad as what they were yesterday.

"That is something all of us have to brace ourselves for."

Scores of homes torched

Early assessments show more than 50 properties have been destroyed by bushfires in Conjola Park on the NSW South Coast.

The Currowan bushfire ripped through the region on New Year's Eve, forcing many residents to flee to the beach.

Dozens of cars in the Lake Conjola area, north of Ulladulla, were also seen to be destroyed by an ABC reporter in the region.

He said cars were found melted in the street and paint from vehicles was draining down the road.

Large trees were seen fallen across roads in the town and powerlines were down.

"Conjola has certainly been identified as an area that … we're expecting a considerable toll in that area," Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

"Initial reports are that it's had heavy impact and there is significant damage and destruction to property."

The town remains without power and telecommunications.

Anxious communities left in dark

Meanwhile, fire authorities and residents are working to regain access to firegrounds across the southern NSW coast.

At least two people were killed in Cobargo and entire towns were decimated by the infernos yesterday.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has told the ABC at least 20 properties in Batemans Bay were destroyed.

Several businesses in the coastal town are still ablaze this morning.

Eurobodalla Shire councillor Jack Tait said he was still without power and had been unable to find out the true destruction to the town, but said he understood many properties were gone.

"The reports that we've got is that a massive amount of Batesmans Bay has been destroyed," he said.

"I've no idea of the loss of life, hopefully there's none.

"But I believe that we've lost extensive houses, the industrial area - apparently part of that has been decimated."


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