‘Bloody devestating’: Sam Armytage caught up in fires
Sunrise host Sam Armytage was among the many affected by the bushfires that have scorched the south coast of New South Wales this week.
Armytage took to Instagram to share updates as she escaped the fire zone with her dogs and a man presumed to be her partner, farmer/businessman Richard Lavender.
"A belated HNY to you all.
We've made it out of the south coast fire zone & I'm feeling very excited for a shower, some electricity & telecommunications," Armytage wrote.
"More seriously, I'm feeling very thankful for my lot in life & very sad for those who've just lost lives, livestock & livelihoods."
Clearly rattled by her close call with the blaze, Armytage said it had spurred her to "simplify her life" in 2020 and "use the year ahead wisely."
"Wishing for more rain for our farmers, better management of our environment & good karma for all those brave souls (paid & unpaid) out there fighting these horrendous fires," she wrote.
"To you & yours, from me & mine, be safe. Be happy & love lots in 2020."
Armytage posted sobering imagery to her Instagram stories of the smoky skies in Bemboka, close to Cobargo, where two people have already died this week, and the apocalyptic horizon in Narooma.
"Needless to say, no filter," she said of the blood-red sky.
Armytage had posted the footage when she was safely home as there was no internet coverage in the fire-affected areas.
People have been warned to leave fire-threatened communities in Australia's southeast as extreme weather conditions are forecast for the weekend.
The worst blazes continue to burn in Victoria's east and on the NSW south coast, where eight people have died, others are missing and hundreds of homes have been destroyed.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says with Saturday's fire conditions predicted to be worse than New Year's Eve, people should leave the area.
"Our message is, as soon as the roads are able to be traversed we are encouraging, particularly holiday-makers and visitors, to make their way out to safer places like Sydney," he said.
The RFS specifically advised tourists already in the area stretching south from Batemans Bay to the Victoria border to immediately leave and warned those planning to visit in the next few days to stay away, especially on Saturday. Forecast high temperatures in excess of 40C mixed with low humidity and strong winds could see bushfires from the state's southeast up to Sydney flare.
"We all need to prepare ourselves for more challenging conditions to once again impact large areas," Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
Immediate escape won't be possible for thousands of people trapped by bushfires in Victoria's East Gippsland.
Phones remain cut across much of the region and people are struggling to communicate with loved ones and get the latest information on the fire risk.
They are likely to be evacuated by air and sea as the Defence Force begins relief operations in the area following a request from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
Aircraft, including Black Hawk helicopters, were expected to commence work late on Wednesday, with other aircraft and naval vessels due in the coming days.
Civilian helicopters and boats have already begun ferrying firefighters and supplies to the isolated community of Mallacoota, near the NSW border.
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The town was hit by fire on Tuesday as 4000 people sheltered on a beach amid apocalyptic scenes.
"The next few days are going to be a lot of hard work and the next few months will be a very long and steady process of helping these communities to rebuild," Mr Andrews said.
About 150 fires continue to burn in NSW and Victoria on Thursday. Across Australia, eighteen people have died and more than 1200 homes have been destroyed in bushfires so far this fire season.