Another life lost as bushfire crisis deepens


Australia's bushfire crisis has claimed another life after a man was killed fighting a fire in Victoria's Gippsland region.

It's understood the support worker died late Saturday at the fires near Gelantipy after the vehicle he was driving rolled down an embankment.

"Tragically, a man working in support of our firefighter activities near Gelantipy died late Saturday," chief fire officer for Forest Fire Management Victoria, Chris Hardman, said. "Our thoughts are with his family, friends and workmates."

It comes as emergency warnings are in place as around 125 fires rage across NSW - with one burning incredibly close to the Blue Mountains' iconic Three Sisters.

Elsewhere in the state, a bushfire in the Shoalhaven region has almost doubled in size after being whipped up by westerly winds.

Bushfires came close to the Blue Mountains’ iconic Three Sisters overnight. Picture: Hazelbrook Rural Fire Brigade
Bushfires came close to the Blue Mountains’ iconic Three Sisters overnight. Picture: Hazelbrook Rural Fire Brigade

The fire north of Batemans Bay has burnt through more than 11,560 hectares and was spreading quickly in an easterly direction on Monday morning.

The Princes Highway has been closed between Termeil and the Kings Highway turn-off, cutting access to coastal communities in the area.

The Rural Fire Service NSW has warned those living in areas between Kioloa and North Durras, including Depot Beach, Pebbly Beach, Pretty Beach and Bawley Point, that it's too late to leave.

"Fire activity increased over the evening due to strong westerly winds," the service said in an emergency warning.

"Firefighters are working in the area to protect properties where possible. Seek shelter as the fire impacts. It is too late to leave."

Two million hectares of land have been burnt since July in more than 7000 fires which have raged across the state in the "most challenging bushfire season ever".

As of 2.30am this morning, the RFS says more than 1500 firefighters and support crew are working to slow the spread of the 125 bush or grass fires burning across NSW - with 49 of them not yet contained.

Conditions are set to worsen under strong winds today.

RFS Deputy Commissioner, Rob Rogers, said NSW resident's should not be "fooled" by today's cool temperatures.

"People need to be very attentive today and make sure that they look after themselves," he told the Today show.

"I think that there is still a lot of work to do. We were talking about some 6,000km of fire to get through in the northern part of the state."

He added that the worst conditions are yet to come, with Wednesday tipped to be particularly challenging.

"Tomorrow the winds will ease a little bit, but we are still expecting quite a warm day," he said. "But then Wednesday will be quite hot and windy. I think that will be looking at the peak of the weather. Beyond that, there's no respite in sight for meaningful rain at all."

So far this fire season, six lives have been lost while 673 homes and 1400 other buildings have been destroyed.

A total fire ban has been issued for Monday across the far north coast, Greater Hunter and New England regions due to forecast hot and windy conditions.

Almost 130 fires are burning across NSW. Picture: MyFireWatch
Almost 130 fires are burning across NSW. Picture: MyFireWatch

"While it's expected to be cooler tomorrow, it's going to be very windy in many areas," the RFS tweeted.

"This will present challenging conditions for several days with so many fires."

The Rural Fire Service has warned of "worsening conditions" this week with one regional command telling residents that "now" is the time to talk to family about what to do when bushfire hits.

"Very windy and dry conditions will see elevated fire dangers across parts of NSW today," the service tweeted.

Today, three areas are under a Total Fire Ban including the Greater Hunter, New England and Far North Coast.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for eastern NSW today with winds across large parts of the state tipped to break 90km/h.

The Southern Tablelands, Central Tablelands, Hunter, Northern Tablelands, Mid North Coast and Illawarra districts are forecast to be worst hit.

"A series of cold fronts will sweep across southeast Australia during the next day or so, generating gusty westerly winds through most of New South Wales, accompanied by squally showers in some areas," the bureau said.

Conditions are expected to gradually ease at night, although some areas may remain quite windy into Tuesday.

Air quality in southwest Sydney, meanwhile, has been declared hazardous.



Elsewhere in the nation, an indigenous community in Western Australia's north is being threatened by a bushfire.

A "watch and act" alert was issued for Coconut Wells north of Broome on Sunday and remained in place on Monday morning.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services says the cause of the fire, which has burnt 7500 hectares, is not known.



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