Rain relief brings 'strange' new hazards to bushfire fight

The cooler, wet weather that has brought relief to Victoria is creating new hazards in the bushfire-ravaged east.

More than one million hectares have burnt across Victoria, mostly in East Gippsland.

Smoke blanketing the region is adding to the difficulty of firefighting and relief efforts.

Rain has started to fall in Victoria and southern NSW, but not across all fire-affected areas and not enough to douse the fires, and is creating new difficulties.

"It does in fact create some other challenges in a strange way we had a Forest Fire Management vehicle tip over yesterday, thankfully no one was seriously injured," Premier Daniel Andrews told 3AW on Monday.

Burnt trees and debris cover the road outside Cann River along the Monaro Highway, Australia.
Burnt trees cover the road outside Cann River along the Monaro Highway. Source: Getty Images

Mr Andrews said the track the vehicle was travelling had been greasy because rain had not fallen there in such a long time.

"So it's better than it not raining, but it's nowhere near enough for us to think this event's over," he said.

There are 31 fires burning across Victoria as of Monday morning, with 18 in eastern Gippsland and six in the northeast.

The deadly fires have destroyed at least 110 properties and 220 outbuildings.

Four remain missing in Victorian fires

The fires have already killed Buchan man Mick Roberts and Maramingo Creek man Fred Becker. Four people remain missing.

The cooler weather has allowed military helicopters to deliver supplies to isolated communities and help with evacuations, reaching 13 communities on Sunday.

They also rescued 406 people from Mallacoota and will continue to try and fly out a remaining 300 people who registered for evacuation. Navy ships brought out more than 1100 people on Saturday.

More than 3500 properties remain without power, with AusNet bringing in generators when possible and restoring the network when it is safe to do so.

Two Australian Army Soldiers help people evacuate at Omeo showgrounds.
Two soldiers help evacuate people at Omeo showgrounds on Sunday. Source: Getty Images

Emergency warnings are in place for bushfire-threatened East Gippsland communities at Cann Valley and in the Drummer and Merremingger state forests.

Light rain fell across Victoria on Sunday, but authorities urged people to remain vigilant.

The Victorian government has announced a fund to support Victorian bushfire survivors, contributing $2 million.

The national fire disaster has shocked Australians and prompted generous donations from all corners of the country.

576 homes lost in NSW fires since New Year’s Eve

Hundreds of people are expected to find out their homes have been destroyed in fire-ravaged NSW and Victoria as showers bring relief to firefighters.

But the Rural Fire Service warns the rain won't put out the largest and most dangerous blazes before conditions worsen later in the week.

At least sixty homes were destroyed in Saturday's NSW blazes, taking to 576 the number lost since New Year's Eve.

The RFS expects hundreds more will be confirmed lost in coming days, as assessment teams reach the hardest-hit towns.

Rain falls on the burnt landscape lining Bendalong Road leading to Bendalong.
Rain falls at Bendalong Road leading to Bendalong on Sunday. Source: AAP

Areas thought to be hardest hit on Saturday included Bundanoon, Wingello, Batlow, Adelong, the Jervis Bay area, Boydtown, Kiah, Wonboyn, Towamba and Cabramurra.

Some homes lost were in the Southern Highlands after a flank of a massive 400,000-hectare fireground stretching as far south as Batemans Bay jumped the Shoalhaven River.

In the far south, Eden residents were able to return to their homes on Sunday as crews continued to battle the Border Fire, which has scorched 271,000 hectares since igniting west of Victorian town Mallacoota.

"We are comfortable for people to be in their homes at the moment," RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers told the ABC.

He said he was content for the community to be given some time to recover, after a "rough" day and night.

Residents look on as flames burn through bush in Lake Tabourie, Australia.
Residents watch on at a bushfire in Lake Tabourie. Source: Getty Images

"There is an enormous amount of fire in that part of the world, these are not going to go out for some time," he said.

"We have been dealing with the fires non-stop now for more for five months and I can't see that changing over the next month.

"It makes you think... just where that will end."

People stranded in Mallacoota after the bushfires that ravaged the town on December 30 are evacuated by army personnel to the HMAS Choules.
People are evacuated from Mallacoota to the HMAS Choules at the end of December. Source: Getty Images

Warm conditions to return later in the week

Fire danger ratings on Monday will be high or low-moderate across much of NSW, with only parts of the state's north experiencing "very high" risk.

The Bureau of Meteorology is expecting some showers to cooler conditions across fire grounds in the state's south.

"Though not a huge amount, that (rain) should slow down the fires," duty forecaster Jake Phillips said late on Sunday.

However, most areas across the NSW South Coast are forecast for 5mm or less on Monday.

A firefighter tackles a bushfire south of Nowra.
A firefighter battles a blaze south of Nowra. Source: Getty Images

Some early forecasts for later in the week show warmer conditions, with warm northerly winds expected to cross the west on Thursday and reach the east on Friday.

"It doesn't look as bad as Saturday or New Year's Eve but it's definitely something we'll be watching closely," Mr Phillips said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has acknowledged NSW is in "unchartered territory" and can't pretend the fires are something experienced before.

"The weather activity we're seeing, the extent and spread of the fires, the speed at which they're going, the way in which they're attacking communities who've never ever seen fire before, is unprecedented," she said on Sunday.

Early on Monday, more than 130 bushfires were burning across the state, including more than 60 uncontained. Two were subject to a watch-and-act alert.

Resident Dave Iredale talks on his phone while standing amongst ash from bushfires washed up on a beach in Merimbula.
Ash from the bushfires sits washed up on a beach in Merimbula as resident Dave Iredale walks through. Source: Getty Images

Eighteen people, including three firefighters, have died in the NSW bushfires since October. The death toll has reached 24 across the country.

At least 1482 homes, 100 facilities and 2339 outbuildings such as sheds have been confirmed destroyed across NSW since July. Close to 20,000 buildings have been saved.

The national disaster has shocked Australians and prompted generous donations from all corners of the country.

Australian comedian Celeste Barber helped raise a staggering $30 million by Sunday evening to help NSW firefighters.

NSW RFS firefighters work through the night to prevent a flare-up from crossing the Kings Highway in between Nelligen and Batemans Bay.
NSW RFS firefighters try to stop a flare-up from crossing the Kings Highway in between Nelligen and Batemans Bay on Thursday. Source: Getty Images

Convoy heads for Kangaroo Island

A convoy of army vehicles with up to 100 reservists is heading for Kangaroo Island as the bushfire recovery gathers pace.

The blaze, which has burnt more than 155,000 hectares inside a 300-kilometre perimeter, is still active in some areas with authorities concerned about deteriorating weather conditions later this week.

But work to assess the full extent of the damage and help locals get back on their feet is underway with army personnel and supplies to arrive in Penneshaw on Monday.

Work is also underway to restore power supplies with about 600 properties still without electricity.

SA Power Networks says customers may be without services for an extended period while the damage to equipment is determined.

Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island was destroyed by bushfires.
The army will send in a convoy to Kangaroo Island. Source: ABC

It says only a portion of the affected area has been inspected so far and crews have already identified 12 kilometres of lines brought down.

Some mobile phone and landline services in parts of Kangaroo Island are down, with Telstra advising it is working as quickly as possible to restore connections.

Cooler weather and some rain across the fireground on Saturday and Sunday brought some relief but the Country Fire Service declared a total fire ban for Monday in the wake of a number of flare-ups and the prospect of rising temperatures from Wednesday.

A "watch and act" alert was issued for Stokes Bay near Lathami Conservation Park on the island's north coast early on Monday as a scrub fire threatened the area.

Kangaroo Island in South Australia is seen ravaged by bushfires.
Twelve kilometres of powerlines have been brought down on the island. Source: ABC

A bushfire advice remains in place for the western half of the island with the eastern edge of the fireground extending from the north to the south coast.

A large number of homes, farms and other buildings are thought destroyed along with tourism and service infrastructure.

The fire also claimed two lives with outback pilot Dick Lang, 78, and his 43-year-old son Clayton Lang killed when their car became trapped by flames near Parndana.

With AAP

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