'Act immediately to survive': Fire creates own weather pattern as it closes in on resort town

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

Residents were told it’s too late to leave a town on Victoria’s East Gippsland coastline as a ravaging bushfire closes in.

Authorities issued an emergency warning late on Tuesday as the fire – so strong it has created its own weather pattern – moved in on Tamboon, 115km by road to Mallacoota on the NSW border which was decimated by recent fires.

The fire is approaching from the east from the Croajingolong National Park. The warning has since been downgraded to watch and act.

Residents rushed to the beach to shelter from the approaching fire, ABC journalist Justine Longmore said on Twitter. There were 12 people who stayed in the town, authorities said.

Vic Emergency said late last night residents’ best option was to shelter indoors.

“You must take shelter before the fire arrives. The extreme heat is likely to kill you well before the flames reach you,” the emergency alert said.

“Shelter in a room that has two exits, such as a door or window including one directly to the outside. It is important to be able to see outside so you know what is happening with the fire. 

“If your home catches on fire and the conditions inside become unbearable, you need to get out and go to an area that has already been burnt. It may still be too hot to remain outside, so you’ll need to seek shelter in another structure or last resort option.”

A helicopter fighting East Gippsland fires on December 30. Source: AAP

Fire crews are desperately hoping they can be assisted by forecasted rain over the out-of-control fire, however only 5mm is predicted to fall meaning the conditions will unlikely help.

There are also fears lightning could start new fires.

Seventeen fires were burning in Victoria on Tuesday evening.

The recent bushfires have burned 1.4 million hectares across the state. Four people have died, with 353 homes and 548 other structures destroyed.

NSW prepares for heavy rain in fire areas

Bushfire-ravaged communities are preparing ahead of forecast heavy rainfalls that authorities fear could cause slips and flooding in some parts of NSW.

Rainfall totals of 30 to 80 millimetres are forecast from Thursday, with strong falls possible for fire grounds in the Snowy Mountains, southwest of Sydney and South Coast regions.

The Bega Valley Shire Council said it would work with the RFS to manage any impacts caused by the deluge.

"Weather predictions indicate conditions are favourable over the next week for the containment effort," the council posted on its Facebook page.

"There is predicted rainfall from Thursday onwards – early indications show the possibility of heavy rainfall which may impact on sediment runoff into waterways.

The rain forecast for the current week shows Australia's east coast set for a soaking. Source: BoM

"This situation is being monitored and planned for by council and RFS."

Firefighters have welcomed the forecast as the best news in months but the Bureau of Meteorology said the rain could be a "double-edged sword".

"Hopefully some of this heavy rainfall will fall over fire sites and help control or even extinguish fires," meteorologist Sarah Scully said on Tuesday.

"But it's a bit of a double-edged sword because heavy rainfall and gusty thunderstorms bring the potential for flash flooding, particularly in the burnt-out areas of NSW and Victoria which are now vulnerable to land slips and trees coming down."

Despite the easing conditions, fire danger ratings are still high for large parts of NSW on Wednesday. 

With AAP

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