Record breaking temperatures as fire devastation continues
AS THE sun goes down today more than 1000 residents remained trapped in a town in country NSW where a fast-moving fire is closing in and all escape routes have been cut.
Up until this morning, the biggest danger to homes and lives was in the state's south-west where a 52,000ha blaze was threatening the town of Coonabarabran.
But just as firefighters were announcing that threat had eased, three major fires broke out in other regions.
At Boorowa, near Harden, the fire spread too quickly for families to be given the warning they needed.
By this afternoon, residents were being told it was too late to leave and the local recreation park would provide the best shelter.
Hundreds of firefighters from around the state were being sent to area to set up containment lines around the centre of town.
Emergency warnings were also in place for the Hunter and Bega Valleys.
Cessnock residents were being evacuated and families in coastal towns near Merimbula were being told to head to Bega before the Princess Hwy was cut.
The mercury was sitting at a record breaking 45.7 degrees in Sydney's CBD and had peaked at more than 46 degrees out west, where a grass fire was burning at Campbelltown, this afternoon.
Similar conditions were experienced in Canberra where residents were marking the 10-year anniversary of the bushfire crisis which claimed more than 2000 homes and 10 lives.
Lightning strikes remained a concern for firefighters as storms rolled in across NSW but the change in weather was expected to bring at least 10mm of rain to affected regions.
In the Victorian region of Gippsland emergency warnings remained in place tonight night for families at Licola, Heyfield, Lake Glenmaggie, Dawson and Seaton where a wildfire was tearing through the Baw Baw National Park.
Four homes were lost on Thursday night and another home was destroyed today.
The popular tourist town of Licola had been evacuated.
More than 90 children on holiday camps were relocated to nearby Traralgon.
A Country Fire Authority spokesman told reporters 10 people remained at Licola and were being helped by firefighters.
He said those people were now trapped as all roads had been cut at the only escape route was a "very difficult path" up Mt Hotham.
Wellington mayor Scott Rosetti told the ABC today the ferocity of the fire was "amazing" and feared the blaze could have devastated the region's irrigating country.
He explained that Lake Glenmaggie, the major irrigation source, had been critically low following an extended dry spell.
The fire has been fuelled by undergrowth which had recovered since the 2006 bushfires.
Homes lost: NSW 51, VIC 13.
Acreage burnt: NSW more than 650,000ha; Vic more than 50,000ha.
Fires still burning: NSW 120; Vic 8.
MAJOR FIRES BURNING
BEGA VALLEY - Properties are under direct threat in the Bega Valley, about 5kms west of Merimbula. An emergency warning was in place on Friday night.
BOOROWA (Harden) - An Emergency Warning is in place for a large, fast moving grass fire south west of Boorowa. More than 50 fire trucks are on scene. Ground crews are being assisted by water bombing aircraft. Properties and lives are under threat. An emergency alert telephone warning message has been sent to homes in the area.
CESSNOCK - Emergency alerts have been sent to property owners at Aberdare, near Cessnock whee a fire reignited on Friday afternoon. A bush fire is burning in the area around Aberdare near
COONABARABRAN - More than 170 firefighters are fighting the 52,000ha bush fire in the Warrumbungle National Park west of Coonabarabran. Hundreds have been evacuated to the town centre. Properties were under direct threat on Friday night.
DEANS GAP (Shoalhaven) - The fire near Sussex Inlet has reignited. The fire was expected to breach containment lines Friday.
YARRABIN (Cooma) - A bush fire continues to burn 20km east of Cooma in the Kybeyan Range area. The fire has burnt over 12,100ha
GLENMAGGIE - SEATON - Homes and lives at risk at Lake Glenmaggie, Dawson, Heyfield and Seaton. The bushfire has burnt out 44,500.