Mallacoota: Where Australia's bushfires turned day to night

A burnt sign near Bilpin New South Wales. Some 30,000 tourists were urged to leave East Gippsland in Victoria on Sunday before the weather deteriorated

4000 holidaymakers trapped on Australia beach encircled by fire

A father and son died on Tuesday defending their home in Cobargo, New South Wales (NSW), and five others are now missing.

From Britain to the Middle East, publications are running front-page stories of Australian towns cloaked in red bushfire haze as locals battle to defend their properties.

In some places the blazes were so intense, the smoke so thick and fire-provoked dry lightning storms so severe that aerial reconnaissance and waterbombing had to be halted, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said fire crews described the scene of the overturned firefighter's truck as "truly horrific, a fire tornado". "It's going to be another hard day again tomorrow".

"Just to put it in perspective, the New South Wales fires are as big as the United Kingdom", he said, speaking from Sydney.

"We've got three strike teams in Mallacoota that will be looking after 4,000 people down on the beach there", Crisp said.

Photos of the Mallacoota area show a reddish-orange glow across the sky as bushfires continue to rage nearby.

It looked "a lot like Armageddon", said David Jeffrey, the owner of the Wave Oasis guesthouse, adding, "It's terrifying".

More than 115 communities across Victoria remained under emergency warnings Tuesday night.

Firefighters were deployed to protect those stranded on the beach, and preparations are underway for a sea or airborne evacuation if needed.

Ms Roberts said she believes her house has been destroyed. "It was like we were in hell", vacationer Zoe Simmons told CNN. "Everyone is pretty shocked at the moment, most of my mates are in the same position".

"My home's in the fire path, I won't have a home, that's just the way it's going to be, we have to try and be calm".

Located in the far eastern corner of Victoria state, East Gippsland is home to about 80,000 people, who are scattered across remote villages and towns.

Metro UK told viewers how the fires were "turning Australia red" and "blocking out the sun" as residents of NSW's South Coast sought shelter on the beaches as their homes burned.

Morello and others said they had run out of food and were unable to replenish supplies as shops had shut. James Findlay, a Melbourne-based broadcaster, said his parents' home in the town was gutted after palm trees on the lawn caught fire. The couple were vacationing in New Zealand.

"Hearing gas cylinders exploding means they are more than likely attached to a house, which is not boding well", he told Reuters by telephone from the waterfront, where winds were whipping audibly in the background.

The fires have laid waste to 4 million hectares (or 10 million acres), which roughly equals the size of Japan.

Two of those feared dead are from the town of Cobargo, while the other is from Belowra.

As New Year's celebrations approach, more than 250,000 people have signed a petition calling for Sydney's famed harbor New Year's fireworks display to be canceled and for the money to be spent fighting the fires.

"Many of us have mixed feelings about this evening, but the important thing we take out of this is that we're a resilient state", NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.

"The satellite took an image of some of the heat tracks, it's several hours old now, but it's probably close to at least 60 per cent larger than it was yesterday, so much, much larger and that starts right up north of Gelantipy", incident controller Chris Eagle told ABC.

Latest News