news

From the NSW 'mega fire' to Adelaide Hills: Everything you missed over the weekend about the bushfire crisis.

Over the weekend, we saw the bushfire emergency gripping Australia worsen under crippling conditions.

Seven people have now been killed since the start of the bushfires, with more than 900 homes lost and 200 fires still burning across the country.

We will get no Christmas miracle. These fires are relentless and despite some slightly eased conditions today – they’re not going anywhere fast.

Andrew was one of the two firefighters killed last week in NSW. Post continues after video.

Video by Andrew O'Dwyer

Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrived back in Sydney on Saturday night after calling his family holiday short by one day in response to anger and mounting criticism from his constituents. Hundreds camped outside his Kirribilli home on Thursday holding signs reading “Where the bloody hell are ya?”

Morrison admits to “deeply regretting” any offence caused, and this morning on Today called the decision “complex” but one that “fair-minded” Australians would understand.

ADVERTISEMENT

He also today addressed the ongoing complaints for more action on climate change. Describing any calls to lower Australia’s carbon emissions as “reckless”.

“What we won’t do is engage in reckless and job destroying and economy crunching targets,” he told Nine.

When asked if he was embarrassed by the international media coverage his holiday gained, the Prime Minister answered ‘no’ with everyone from the BBC to The New York Times reporting on the criticism.

Swedish teenage eco-warrior Greta Thunberg has also weighed in. The 16-year-old retweeted a 9News video commenting that politicians were still failing to connect the world’s climate crisis with extreme weather events.

NSW and the Blue Mountains ‘mega fire.’

The mega Gospers Mountain blaze is burning north west of Sydney. It has burnt more than 444,000 hectares from the western border of the Blue Mountains, to the Central Coast, north to the Hunter Galley and south to the Hawkesbury.

Three weeks ago several fires merged, forming the “monster” as it’s known to those in its path. It was further fuelled over the weekend by strong southerly winds.

The sheer ferocity of it was captured by a Blue Mountains local who filmed the flames jumping up the Grose Valley which is more than 200 metres in height.

ADVERTISEMENT

Over the weekend, more than 100 buildings were lost in the state – mostly from the mega fire – with Lithgow, Buxton and Bargo the hardest hit areas.

Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O’Dwyer, 36 – both young dads – were killed when their truck rolled while on the Wattle Creek fire-ground on Thursday night.

On Friday and over the weekend there was a national outpouring of grief for the hero dads, with flags flown at half mast across the state. A day after their deaths, the men’s brigade in Horsley Park was back out fighting the flames.

The three crews emblazoned their trucks with “In memory of Geoff Keaton” and “In memory of Andrew O’Dwyer.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The small town of Balmoral in Sydney’s south-west has been hit twice in a matter of days by the Wattle Creek fire.

Premier Gladys Berejilklian confirmed the “devastating” news that there was “not much left” of the small community home to 400 people.

After being ravaged on Thursday, the fire came back again on Saturday and further decimated the area. But locals and those that fought the blaze have hit back at the Premier’s wording.

One firefighter was brought to tears in an interview on radio 2GB, upset at the inference from the Premier that his RFS crews had let the town down.

“Balmoral has not been wiped off the map. It is not almost gone. It is all still there,” the man named Greg said.

“The suggestion that we failed in defending that village. I don’t know how the other guys take that, but me personally, I’m quite offended at the suggestion that we lost that village because we didn’t.

“I had mates hospitalised,” he told the radio station.

NSW fire crews many of whom have been fighting for months, were left suffering from exhaustion after the weekend’s heightened activities – with one crew in Dargan overcome by chlorine fumes after a building containing the chemical caught alight. Several firefighters were injured and taken to hospital.

ADVERTISEMENT

There was also fear over the weekend for a missing Lithgow man. He lived on a remote property engulfed by flames in the Blue Mountains on Saturday, however was found safe and well in an evacuation centre on Sunday after a desperate search.

New South Wales remains in a state of emergency.

Devastation in Adelaide Hills.

In South Australia one man died over the weekend, with 86 homes and more than 400 other buildings destroyed by a bushfire that was sparked in the Adelaide Hills on Friday under catastrophic conditions.

Charleston man Ron Selth, 69, was found dead at his property on Saturday.

Ron Selth
Ron Selth was killed by the bushfire in the Adelaide Hills over the weekend. Image: ABC.

"Ron was a loving, optimistic and generous man, who valued his relationships with family and friends more than anything else," his family said in a statement.

He is survived by his partner Suzy and their children Johanna, Luke and Jasmine, as well as six grandchildren, according to The Adelaide Advertiser.

On Friday another yet to be named man was killed in a car crash, that the South Australian Premier says was linked to one of the fires in the state.

Three others were injured over the weekend and remain in hospital with burns.

Among the losses were more than 600 sheep, and 1100 hectares of vineyards - the losses of which are expected to be in the millions.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

The last time I saw my brother cry was in 1989 when he was in hospital for a leg operation. He was 9 years old. ⁣ The next time was today.⁣ He’s lost everything. His house, his business, his beautiful adored grapevines, his pride and joy. Years and years of toil on a business that he built from scratch and now it’s all gone. ⁣ @vinteloper was his life’s work and as anyone who runs a business knows, it’s hard enough. ⁣ If you’re looking for some way to help, please, #buyfromthebush and get some wine direct from his website. I’ll put the link in my bio. The cashflow is much needed if he’s ever going to be able to rebuild. And if he can’t, you might just have one of the last bottles of wine that he made.⁣ I’m heartbroken for you Dave. ???????? #SAfires #SABushfires #vinteloper #wine #cudleecreek #cudleecreekfire #smallbusiness #supportsmallbusiness #adelaidehillswine #wineaustralia @gtwinemag @wineaustralia @buyfromthebush #adelaidehills #adelaidehillswine #adelaide #southaustralia #southaustralianwine #satourism

A post shared by moniquebowley (@moniquebowley) on

ADVERTISEMENT

Like in New South Wales, wildlife has been heavily affected by the bushfires, with one woman's Facebook post about the rescuing of six koalas going viral.

"Amazing work by a man named Adam and his mates who pulled these guys out of harms way at Cudlee Creek and into safety," wrote Janelle Michalowski on Facebook.

More than 200 firefighters from 40 fire trucks remain on the fireground today, extinguishing any areas that are still smouldering, blacking out and patrolling, with a focus on road edges.

25,000 hectares has burned inside a 127km perimeter so far.

Other fires around the country.

In Queensland about 60 fires are burning within containment lines around the state, with the smoke haze from NSW also impacting residents there.

A massive blaze north of Perth which was last week threatening lives and homes in the city's south east has been downgraded. Crews fought heatwave conditions for the six-day fire and saved thousands of properties.

Tasmania's two big fires were brought under control last month and the Northern Territory has been without fire since October.

There are two blazes burning uncontrolled in Victoria, on

A slight reprieve.

The national weather forecast across Australia today has given firefighters a slight easing in the severe conditions that have worsened bushfires in recent days.

ADVERTISEMENT

In NSW crews are taking advantage of the cooler conditions, undertaking significant back burning in south west Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

"A massive amount of work right across the fire grounds the length and breadth of the state will continue throughout the Christmas and New Year period," Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told Seven's Sunrise.

Thankfully the NSW crews were joined by Canadian and US reinforcements over the weekend, bolstering their efforts.

Fitzsimmons however says the longterm forecast is still grim stating, "We're still talking four to six weeks before we start to see some meaningful reprieve in the weather [in terms of rain]."

Queensland is expecting some rain on Christmas eve, a much anticipated prediction.

... And there's more.

Mamamia Out Loud, our bi-weekly podcast, is coming to Melbourne for a live show, with 100 per cent of all ticket proceeds going to the Australian Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund.

It's a brand new show, full of laughs and news and opinions and a few special surprises, with Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and Jessie Stephens, on February the 11th. You can buy tickets right now at mamamia.com.au/events. See you there! 

With AAP

Feature image: Eden Hills Country Fire Service/ bluemtns_explore

00:00 / ???