Two people, including a 17-year-old boy, have been charged over their alleged intent to break into homes in fire-ravaged communities on NSW’s south coast.
The teenager was allegedly stopped with a screwdriver and bandana in Bangalee, north of Nowra, on Sunday, while a 30-year-old man on Monday was allegedly stopped with a knife, jemmy bar, pliers and other objects in North Nowra.
Both were charged with possessing housebreaking implements, while the man was also charged with knife possession and other offences.
The boy will appear at a NSW children's court on January 23, while the 30-year-old was granted bail to appear at Nowra Local Court on January 13.
A third man, 30, was charged with high-range drink driving and entering closed land without a lawful excuse after he was spotted acting suspiciously on private land in Moruya.
He will appear in court on February 7.
NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Worboys told 2GB that such alleged acts wouldn’t be tolerated.
“It’s disgusting behaviour, but we know that people behave like this at these times,” he said.
We’ll continue to make communities the safest places we can, even in these circumstances.
“Every single report, I can guarantee the community will be taken seriously.”
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said anyone who takes advantage of vulnerable bushfire-affected communities should face the full force of the law.
“It’s unthinkable that anyone would seek to exploit those who most need our support,” Mr Elliott said.
“They are the lowest of the low and the Government will continue to back our police in their efforts to keep criminals out of communities devastated by fire during these difficult times”.
Rain brings brief relief before temps rise again
While rain has brought a period of respite for exhausted fire crews in some fire-affected areas, NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons warned the threat was far from over.
Temperatures are expected to rise once again on Friday, and while they won’t reach the “unprecedented” conditions seen on Saturday, Mr Fitzsimmons said crews were working to ensure they are prepared.
"While we want to bring a lot of the fires under control, what we're still focusing on primarily is shoring up protection to limit the potential for fire fronts to continue to impact more communities," Mr Fitzsimmons told the ABC.
The 310,000-hectare Dunns Road fire, which has been threatening to merge with the Corryong fire on the Victoria border to create a mega fire spanning roughly half a million hectares, will be hit hardest by the spike in temperatures.
In Tumut, 20km north of the Dunns Road fire, temperatures will reach 41 degrees on Friday. Corryong will rise to 39.
NSW Transport Minister and Bega MP Andrew Constance, meanwhile, called on the government to get support staff into fire-ravaged areas as soon as possible as communities grapple with "unimaginable grief".
Save The Children says it will roll out more child-friendly spaces to allow kids up to 12 to process their experiences with early childhood specialists.
Bundanoon couple Dianne Ross and Michael Hutchinson said evacuating on Saturday helped them become determined to make a plan to defend their home.
"We're not going to play 'we're going to defend until the place is on fire' but we'll defend it as much as possible," Mr Hutchinson told AAP.
Ten people have died battling or trying to escape bushfires since December 30 in NSW, part of the 19 lives lost in the state since the bushfire season started in September.
An estimated 2800 livestock are among millions of animals believed to have been killed.
Some 4.8 million hectares – equal to the metro areas of the five mainland state capitals – have been burned in NSW this season, taking with it at least 1588 homes, 153 facilities and 3122 outbuildings such as sheds.
A person from south of Bombala in southern NSW remains missing.
Building Impact Assessment teams continue working through fire affected areas, to assess damage to properties. So far this season 1,588 homes destroyed & more than 20,000 buildings saved. Since 1 Jan, 672 homes have been lost. This figure is likely to increase. #nswrfs #nswfires pic.twitter.com/FLjafbZccv— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 6, 2020
Victoria fires continue to burn
Two people have died in Victoria and three in South Australia, taking the national death toll to 24.
There are still 15 'Watch and act' warnings' in Victoria and emergency supplies are being flown into the state's 18 cut-off communities.
Fire crews are also preparing for hotter conditions on Friday with large parts of the fire-affected areas to swelter once more.
Bairnsdale, which has been at the heart of the East Gippsland fires, will reach 38.
Some pix from Monday north of Bairnsdale. Nothing was going to stop this. pic.twitter.com/fsRjYgtAtH— Glen MOREY (@somers3927) January 1, 2020
There are around 300 people waiting to be evacuated from the coastal town of Mallacoota where aircraft have been grounded by smoke.
South Australia's tourist hotspot Kangaroo Island is one of more than 100 fires still burning across the country.
In an unprecedented move, almost 500 Army reservists have been called to help in the bushfire response and that number could reach 3000.
A smoke haze sits above Melbourne and Canberra – which recorded the worst air quality of any major city in the world on Monday - and the smoke has even made its way to New Zealand and South America.
Some estimates suggest 500 million animals have died in the fires.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged to spend whatever amount necessary to get Australians "back on their feet" after announcing a $2 billion relief package on Monday.
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