Breaking: People across NSW and Victoria are bracing for a weekend from hell as fires flare up again.
Thousands of people are trying to evacuate regional areas ahead of a devastating bushfire weather warning, with high temperatures and high winds expected.
Highways are clogged with cars, petrol stations are rationing fuel, as tens of thousands head for major towns and cities to escape the flames.
Chaos on the Roads
The Princess Highway is a parking lot in many parts of southern NSW as tourists and locals alike flee before the weekend.
Princess Highway is the only access road in and out of fire ravaged areas in southern #NSW— shaimaa khalil BBC (@Shaimaakhalil) January 2, 2020
Looks like a huge parking lot.Tourists been told to evacuate now not moving. “We’re stranded.We don’t know what to do or where to go” one holidaymaker told me.#NSWbushfires #AustraliaBurns pic.twitter.com/5RUbUQ6adG
NSW has declared a State of Emergency.
The ABC says the Premier says the emergency has been declared to allow for forced evacuations and road closures ahead of Saturday’s forecast “horrible” fire conditions.
NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said conditions on Saturday were likely to be worse than on New Year’s Eve.
“There’ll be real challenges and very real risks associated with what’s being forecast and predicted for fire spread under the sorts of weather conditions we’re expecting as we head into Saturday,” he said.
Holidaymakers who have been told to leave the South Coast ahead of Saturday’s dangerous conditions have been lining up for hours outside petrol stations and supermarkets for supplies.
Leave Now Order Given
A “tourist leave zone” has been declared for a 12,235-square-kilometre area between Batemans Bay and the edge of Victoria’s northern border.
In Victoria, tourists are being told to get out of the Alpine National Park and Kosciuszko National Park just over the boarder in New South Wales.
Fires in the Kosciuszko National Park are set to flare up significantly. There was an urgent evacuation order on Thursday, with holidaymakers urged to get out by 10am on Friday.
Fire Coming North of Nowra
Meanwhile firefighters are desperate to stop a huge wall of flames leaping the Shoalhaven River at Nowra, which could send flames toward Kangaroo Valley and beyond.
Fire set to jump the river.
The firies say the monster Comerong/Tianjara fire could jump the Shoalhaven River and threaten Tapitallee, Budgong, Nowra Hill and into Kangaroo Valley etc over the next few days of heat and wind – go to the meeting tonight in Bomo Bowling Club to discuss the situation pic.twitter.com/4LqmG7cBbc— 🔥🔥🔥💧Leone Britt AnUntamedAustralian #FreePress (@an_untamed) December 27, 2019
People in the Shoalhaven region south of Sydney have been told to leave now
IMPORTANT UPDATE – LEAVE ZONE FOR SHOALHAVEN REGION JUST RELEASED https://t.co/Frqwn8sx4E— ABC Emergency (@ABCemergency) January 2, 2020
When the beast that is the Currowan Fire(its northern front) enters your 20km watch zone & they are talking catostrophic conditions on Saturday it is a worrying wait & see scenario for KV community. Hoping Shoalhaven River holds as a fire break. #KVRFS doing an incredible job. pic.twitter.com/RNxzyB8Syq— Andrew SMEE (@SMEEAndrew) January 2, 2020
People are bracing for the fire and many have fled the region.
Firefighters are working to prevent the escalation of the fire by back burning near Nowra.
Smoke Over the Pacific Ocean
Huge plumes of smoke is blanketing New Zealand. Much of it has head south toward Antarctica.
A look at Australia on Jan. 1, 2020 finds smoke streaming off the continent, enshrouding parts of New Zealand and making a run at Antarctica. pic.twitter.com/RBxFT5qTXA— Andrew Freedman (@afreedma) January 1, 2020
Thick blanket of smoke brought in the New Year across portions of Victoria & New South Wales.— Dakota Smith (@weatherdak) January 2, 2020
The disaster continues in Australia. pic.twitter.com/2Dj3lRkmNk
Watch ABC News 24 news channel for latest info
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Ryan is Contributing Editor