'I can't breathe!': Terrifying moment teen defends her home as bushfire closes in

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

A teenager battling a bushfire burning dangerously close to her property has shared confronting footage from inside the blaze as it threatened to flatten the family’s Victorian home.

India MacDonell, 19, filmed from a GoPro as she and her dad Shaun MacDonell used hoses to spray water on the angry flames closing in around their Goongerah home in the state’s Gippsland region on Sunday.

At one point, she could be heard yelling “I can't breath through my mouth”, before finding a face mask and putting it on.

She also exclaims “the hose in burnt” in a moment of panic, but continues spraying it in the direction of the flames.

“Now that the fires have passed Goongerah and we're not under attack, we are now dealing with a sense of being trapped,” she wrote in a post to Facebook on Wednesday.

“The whole town is a complete mess, so so so much is burnt and every few minutes you can her more and more trees falling in the distance, it's very loud and haunting.

India surrounded by angry flames and thick smoke. Source: Facebook

“And it means the road that takes us back into a proper town with a population over bloody 20 and resources (like food simply) is absolutely blocked with hundreds of trees.

“We were somewhat prepared for something like this, but it's still such an unbelievable sight and feeling. I can't imagine how the rest of the sate is doing, let alone the rest of Australia. My heart goes out to everyone else who has and is still dealing with this disaster.”

The NSW government has declared a third state of emergency of the bushfire season ahead of re-elevated fire risk over the weekend.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the declaration would come into effect from Friday morning, with severe to extreme conditions forecast for Saturday.

Image from video India shot of the burning parts of her family home. Source: Facebook

“All our personnel, all our agencies know that from tomorrow they will be subject to forced evacuations, road closures, road openings and anything else we need to do as a state to keep our residents and to keep property safe. We don't take these decisions lightly,” Ms Berejiklian said on Thursday.

Mass evacuations from bushfire-ravaged southern NSW, meanwhile, have been hampered by massive traffic queues and petrol shortages.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has implored those travelling north from the embattled region and the Snowy Valleys - where "tourist leave zones" have been established - to remain patient and cooperative.

He also said the NSW government had not yet asked the Australian Defence Force for additional resources for evacuations, such as those taking place in similarly fire-scorched eastern Victoria.

Smoke billowing from a fire burning at East Gippsland, Victoria, on Thursday. Source: AAP

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said Saturday's conditions would be at least as bad as those on New Year's Eve, which left a trail of ruined homes, businesses and utility lines.

He confirmed on Thursday the number of houses lost on New Year's Eve had climbed to 382 and could jump much higher as assessments are made.

Since the start of July, at least 15 people have died and almost 1300 homes have been destroyed by bushfires in NSW. More than 3.6 million hectares - three times the size of Sydney's metro area - have been burnt. 

- with AAP

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