Catastrophic fire alerts as heatwave hits

Catastrophic fire alerts as heatwave hits

Catastrophic fire alerts as heatwave hits

Updated 9 January 2013, 1:35 AEST

More than 140 fires are burning across NSW as dangerous fire conditions remain prevalent across much of southern Australia, including Victoria and Tasmania. Look back at how the crisis unfolded on Tuesday.

Hundreds of firefighters in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania are working throughout the night to contain bushfires sparked after a run of searing weather across the country.

Fire authorities have had little reprieve from the heatwave, with temperatures set to continue the dangerous conditions throughout Wednesday.

Homes were destroyed in both New South Wales and Victoria on Tuesday, while more than 100 people remain unaccounted for after last week's bushfires in Tasmania.

More than 140 fires continue to burn in sweltering conditions across New South Wales, where emergency warnings remain in place for Deans Gap, Yarrabin, Sand Hills and Cobbler Road.

A catastrophic fire warning is in place for four areas in southern New South Wales, including the Northern and Eastern Riverina, the Illawarra Shoalhaven, and the Southern Ranges.

The mercury skyrocketed above 40 degrees Celsius across New South Wales on Tuesday, accompanied by strong winds with gusts of up to 100kph in some areas.

Cooler conditions and a southerly change on the state's south coast could bring some relief to fire crews battling a major fire in the Deans Gap area, near Nowra.

However, the Rural Fire Service says the change could also push the fire towards a number of residential properties.

In Victoria, firefighters have contained a blaze that destroyed up to six properties after breaking out in the Chepstowe area, west of Ballarat.

Two men had to be taken to hospital with minor burns, while four others were treated for smoke inhalation.

An out-of-control fire continues to burn through plantations in the Drik Drik area, in south-west Victoria.

Look back over our coverage of Tuesday's events below. All times AEDT.

11:11pm:

A New South Wales firefighter protects a property being impacted by the Dean's Gully fire, near the town of Wandandian:

10:22pm:

An emergency warning remains in place for an out-of-control bushfire burning in the Kybeyan Valley area, in south-east New South Wales.

Authorities say the fire is likely to move towards Numeralla in the early hours of Wednesday morning due to a southerly change.

Police are doorknocking homes in the area to warn residents.

9:20pm:

The fire burning in the Chepstow area, west of Ballarat, has now been contained.

Rain has begun falling over the fire, which has burnt through 1,100 hectares.

A drop in temperature and fire intensity are allowing crews to assess the damage from a blaze that has destroyed a number of homes in western Victoria.

The CFA says they are investigating reports that a number of properties, including an historic homestead, have been damaged in the fire.

Incident controller Jon Rofe says they do not expect the fire to get much bigger tonight.

"There's a quite a cool south-westerly breeze blowing through now. We've actually even had a few spots of very light rain," he said.

"Those weather conditions have helped the fire behaviour abate quite dramatically to the extent where firefighters have been able to be very aggressive in the last hour or so in their attack on the fire."

8:46pm:

NSW officials provide an update on the situation and say more than 140 fires are burning across the state.

Thirty of the fires remain uncontained.

A home has been destroyed at Jugiong and 20 others there are under "imminent attack".

Five emergency warnings remain in effect in areas around:

  • Cobbler Road, near Jugiong;
  • Deans Gap in the Shoalhaven area, where the fire has crossed the Princes Highway;
  • Sand Hills at Bungadore, where the Kings Highway is closed;
  • Tarcutta along the Mats Gully Road; and
  • Yarrabin along the Kybeyan Valley

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says a large amount of damage has been done to infrastructure in pasture country as well as the loss of at least 1,000 head of stock.

He says a bulldozer driver working to contain the fires at Mates Gully was serious injured in an accident and is in hospital.

There have been more than 1.3 million page views to RFS website and 10,000 downloads of bushfire survival plans.

Mr Fitzsimmons says the danger is far from over.

"We've still got many hours of very difficult conditions being faced for NSW. That's tonight alone, let alone looking into tomorrow.

"Particularly as this southerly change moves northward, we can expect some fairly intense and erratic weather behaviour.

"That's going to present challenges and risks for firefighters and those living in the fire-affected areas."

8:24pm:

Conor Duffy filed this report for the ABC's 7.30 program after record heat and powerful winds created dangerous bushfire conditions in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania:

8:17pm:

Fire officials have issued an updated emergency warning for a grassfire burning out of control near the Hume Highway, Bogalara Road and Cobbler Road near the township of Jugiong.

The fire is burning near a small number of rural properties near the township and is impacting on Childowla Road.

It is too late for people in this area to leave they have been advised to take shelter.

More details here

7:57pm:

The Rural Fire Service says the southerly wind change across New South Wales will bring large amounts of smoke from southern fires north.

It is warning this may impact cities including Wollongong and Sydney.

7:44pm:

The town of Tarcutta, near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, has been in the path of one of the fires burning in the state.

Gwen Brown, 73, is helping out at the town's RSL Club, where up to 30 people have gathered.

She told PM's Sally Sara that she has never seen anything like the current fires.

Audio: Gwen Brown describes the scene at Tarcutta's RSL Club (PM)

"We had a very big fire many, many, many years ago on a Christmas Day, but it wasn't as bad. The town wasn't threatened. The fire stopped at lower Tarcutta before it got to the creek.

"But today the wind is so bad here that it's just stirring it all up. [It is] shockingly frightening.

"I mean I'm an older person and I've lived through a few things, but this is probably the scariest I've seen. We've been through floods and all, and this is just the most frightening I've seen."

7:37pm:

ABC reporter Philippa McDonald takes a look back at the day's events:

7:34pm:

Crews attempting to control a fire near Cooma in the south east of New South Wales will continue working through the night.

The fire is burning in the Kybeyan Valley, threatening about 30 homes.

Cooma RFS spokesman Fred Nichols says the temperature has dropped but several homes could be impacted upon by a recent change in the wind.

"The fire is still being pushed along by 35-40kph winds on the fire ground and we're being told they are a lot stronger up in the air so they are not going away.

"There are 30 or so properties up there that could be threatened and the wind change will definitely bring those in the line of fire."

7:01pm:

The blaze which tore through the Tasmanian town of Dunalley also affected the nearby hamlet of Boomer Bay, where 15 homes were destroyed.

The home of Merl and Terry Cluge is still standing, but the fire came so close that it burnt bushes in the Cluges' yard and the Australian flag that is flying above their charred veggie patch is in tatters.

Audio: Boomer Bay residents count cost of fires (PM)

Merl Cluge has told PM's Felicity Ogilvie that he is thankful to be alive.

"We were lucky enough to see it coming and went down to the boat ramp. There was about 25 people with us, with all cars and animals and the rest of it down there. We couldn't go anywhere.

"The heat was horrendous. It's a wonder everything didn't go up. We are just lucky to be here."

6:58pm:

An emergency warning remains in effect for a fire burning near Cobbler Road at Jugiong in NSW.

The RFS says the fire will impact on Childowla and Talmo roads.

People in these areas have been advised to leave and head north to Bookham Hall.

6:41pm:

Two homes have been destroyed by a fast-moving grassfire at Chepstowe, west of Ballarat, in Victoria.

An emergency warning remains in place there and VicRoads says the Western Freeway has been closed between Ballarat and Ararat.

The CFA says the fire has burnt through 225 hectares and police have been asked to evacuate nearby residents.

Two firefighters have been treated for superficial burns to their hands.

Lee Miezs of the Fire Control Centre says the blaze has grown significantly in the past hour, and a broader watch-and-act alert has been issued.

"The watch-and-act is for broader communities than the initial warnings, so that warning does still exist for that Chepstowe area, but as I said a watch-and-act for the communities of Chepstowe, Poverty Point, Snake Valley, Morchip, Carnam, Burrumbeet and Brewster," he said.

6:35pm:

The NSW Rural Fire Service says crews are getting the upper hand on a blaze in the state's southern tablelands.

The fire at Grabben Gullen near Crookwell is being controlled and has been reduced from an emergency warning to a watch-and-act.

No homes or properties have been affected.

Peter Dyce from the Southern Tablelands RFS says the breakthrough is due to the efforts of firefighters.

"Good luck, good fortune and very hard work from our dedicated volunteers," he said.

"The weather has still maintained heat and low humidity, but the wind may have dropped slightly."

6:31pm:

At Dean's Gap in the Shoalhaven area of the NSW south coast, a fire has breached containment lines and is threatening residents of Wandandian and Sussex Inlet.

Residents at Sussex Inlet and surrounding towns have been told it is too late to leave.

There is an anxious wait to see if a predicted southerly change will ease the threat.

The Princes Highway remains closed in both directions, blocking the way out for residents who have been advised to stay and protect their homes or head to their closest evacuation centre.

Here is an image from RFS Line Scan aircraft of the fire:

6:22pm:

The Federal Government says it will activate its disaster response plan to assist the Rural Fire Service in New South Wales.

The plan provides access to Defence Force bases, fuel and personnel.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon says it will assist aerial firefighting services as the state continues to face extreme fire danger.

6:15pm:

Three people have been arrested for deliberately starting a fire at Shalvey in western Sydney this afternoon.

Five police crews worked with the RFS to find the juveniles after the fire burned for more than two-and-a-half hours.

Deputy Commissioner Mick Fuller says it is a disgraceful act on a day like today.

"However, again, it's important the community know that we're out there working with the RFS closely to make sure that we arrest anyone who's conducting this type of activity," he said.

5:42pm:

Emergency services have downgraded the threat to homes from a fire near Parkes in the NSW central west.

Eight homes at Bogan Gate were at risk from the three fires which are believed to have started by a train moving through the area.

The Rural Fire Service says two of the fires are now under control, while the third is being controlled.

The emergency warning that was in place has been downgraded to a watch-and-act alert.

5:39pm:

NSW Rural Fire Service workers and National Parks and Wildlife staff join forces to fill water-bombing aircraft at Jindabyne airfield in south-east NSW:

5:31pm:

Here is an update on the situation in Victoria:

  • An emergency warning is in place for a fast-moving grassfire at Chepstowe, west of Ballarat.
  • Watch-and-act alerts remain in place for fires in the areas of Drik Drik and Goroke.

5:22pm:

URGENT: Officials in NSW have issued an emergency warning for people in the vicinity of Jugiong.

A grass fire is burning out of control near the Hume Highway and Cobbler Road near the township.

Residents in the area of Bald Hill have been advised to remain in place and seek shelter as it is too late to leave the area.

5:18pm:

Crews have contained a fire at Brogo in NSW's south east.

Up to 12 properties were under threat in the area and an emergency warning issued earlier has been lowered to a watch-and-act alert.

The RFS says crews were able to keep the fire to the west of Eagles Nest Road, between the Brogo River and Warrigal Range Road.

It says it is still concerned about possible changes in the wind.

5:12pm:

Here is an update on the situation in Tasmania:

  • An emergency warning is in place for a large bushfire at Speedwell Road at Montumana.
  • Watch-and-act alerts remain in place for four other fires at Mathinna, Holwell, Forcett and Lake Repulse.

Tasmanian police say there are no immediate plans to release the names of people they are searching for in fire-affected areas.

About 100 people remain unaccounted for and police say they are concerned about a number of them.

A team of 20 Victorian police officers is in the state to help the search, which has so far covered more than 550 homes.

5:02pm:

URGENT: An emergency warning has been issued for a 50-hectare fast-moving grassfire at Chepstowe, west of Ballarat, in Victoria.

The CFA says the fire is expected to impact the Beaufort-Carngham and Station Lane intersection.

Lee Miezs of the state control centre says the fire is out of control and travelling in a north-easterly direction.

He says 125 firefighters have been taken to the area to support local firefighters.

Mr Miezs says it is difficult to say how the fire might develop.

"Difficult to say with this weather. We've had grassfires move quickly. People need to follow their bushfire survival plans as there is a risk to lives and homes."

More details here

4:53pm: Evidence of the southerly cool change across New South Wales has been seen in Bega on the state's south coast.

The temperature there at 1.30pm was 40.4 degrees but at 4.30pm it had fallen to 25.7.

At 4.35pm is was 41.4 degrees at Sydney Airport after earlier hitting 42.5 degrees there at 2.08pm.

The state's highest temperature so far today has been 44.8 degrees recorded at Tibooburra and White Cliffs.

4:47pm:

ABC reporter Nick Dole provided this report a short time ago regarding the out-of-control fire is burning near Warrigal Range Road at Brogo.

The fire is expected to impact on isolated properties along Eagles Nest Road and east of Warrigal Range Road within the next hour. 

A southerly wind change is expected around 5.30pm and is likely to push the fire towards Upper Brogo Road.

4:39pm:

URGENT: An emergency alert has been issued in response to a grassfire that has burnt more than 80 hectares around Wokolena (Wagga Wagga) in NSW.

The fire is centred around the intersection of Wokolena Road and the Sturt Highway at Alfredtown. 

An emergency alert telephone warning message has been sent to some isolated rural properties in the vicinity of Wokolena Road.

4:27pm:

URGENT: An emergency warning has been issued for a bushfire burning in the area 13 kilometres east of Bungendore near the Kings Highway in NSW.

The fire is burning near Timber Hills Road and people who plan to leave the area have been advised to move west along the Kings Highway towards Bungendore.

More details here

4:24pm:

The Rural Fire Service says a fire that was threatening the township of Henty in southern NSW is now under control.

A reduction in wind speed and temperature helped firefighters to contain the fire, which came within five kilometres of the town.

4:19pm:

Here is video of the press conference held a little earlier by officials coordinating the response to the New South Wales fires:

135 fires burning across NSW as heat bears downVideo: 135 fires burning across NSW as heat bears down (ABC News)

4:10pm:

URGENT: An emergency warning has been issued for a blaze burning out of control at Grabben Gullen, near Crookwell, in the NSW southern tablelands.

The Rural Fire Service says 10 ground crews and water-bombing aircraft are trying to control the fire which threatens around 50 homes.

Peter Dyce from the Southern Tablelands RFS says more houses will be at risk if the blaze is not contained.

"If we can't control it, it will affect a large number within the next two hours."

4:07pm:

URGENT: An emergency warning has been issued by NSW officials for people near Bogan Gate, west of Parkes.

A number of fires have started along the railway line and are burning to both the west and east of Bogan Gate.

4:06pm:

A state-wide total fire ban has been declared for Wednesday due to the large number of fires across NSW.

4:04pm:

URGENT: The Rural Fire Service in NSW has issued emergency alert for a fire in the Shoalhaven, warning people around Sussex Inlet to prepare for an approaching bushfire.

The RFS says its too late to leave Wandandian, Sussex Inlet, Cudmirrah, Berrara, Bendalong and surrounding areas, and they should seek shelter and prepare their properties.

The Princes Highway is closed in both directions because of the bushfire, which is expected to hit within the next few hours.

The blaze at Deans Gap, to the west of Wandandian, broke containment lines at around one this afternoon.

Earlier, Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash spoke to ABC News 24:

3:58pm:

The ABC's 7.30 last night told the story of one Tasmanian family's amazing race to survive the Dunalley bushfire at the weekend.

Below is a collection of photographs of members of the Walker and Holmes families sheltering next to a jetty in water as the fire approached.

You can also watch the report by clicking here.

3:52pm:

Emily Criticoss and her family have chosen to stay in their house along the road under threat at Brogo in the NSW south-east.

The 22-year-old says they have a bushfire survival plan in place and hope a cool change continues.

"Earlier it was really, really windy and there were quite a few gusts coming at us.

"It is still quite hot, but there's none of the hot winds anymore.

"I know there's a (fire) truck from Bega and one from Cobargo as well as a Brogo truck, but I don't think they can get to the fire yet.

"My father and I are in the fire brigade so we're well prepared."

3:36pm:

NSW officials provide an update on the situation and say more than 130 fires are burning across the state.

Forty of the fires remain uncontained.

The major fires are centred in areas around:

  • the Kybean Valley;
  • Oura;
  • Shoalhaven; and
  • Brogo

Emergency Services Minister Mike Gallacher says while a predicted southerly change has arrived in some parts of NSW, it is moving quite slowly.

"It will be some hours before we see any respite to any of these areas that are so affected.

"The thousands of firefighters that are there on the grounds or indeed on standby are working incredibly hard to protect communities, protect livestock and protect themselves as well as they go about this very dangerous job in very dangerous windy conditions."

3:25pm:

About 500 firefighters are still trying to control a large bushfire in south-west Victoria.

The fire is now 6,600 hectares in size and is burning in a north-easterly direction in remote bushland and a pine plantation west of Portland.

There is a watch-and-act alert for the farming community of Drik Drik, and some local roads are closed or subject to speed restrictions.

ABC reporter Emily Stewart filed this report:

3:19pm:

Insurance companies are already assessing the devastation caused by bushfires in Tasmania.

The Insurance Council says it has received 410 claims in the state so far but expects that figure to rise as people return to their homes.

The estimated loss is well over $42 million.

The council is urging people to contact its hotline if documents have been destroyed and they are unsure who their insurers are.

3:11pm:

ABC reporter Elizabeth Byrne provides an update on a fast-moving grassfire burning about 14km east of Wagga Wagga near the village of Oura.

Helicopters, 100 firefighters battling Oura blazeVideo: Helicopters, 100 firefighters battling Oura blaze (ABC News)

3:05pm:

URGENT: An emergency warning has been issued for a large bushfire burning at Bull Bottom, near Mathinna, in Tasmania.

The uncontrolled fire is expected to put the area of Mathinna at very high risk within an hour. 

More details here

3:01pm:

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds for people in the Illawarra, Southern Tablelands, South West Slopes, Snowy Mountains and Australian Capital Territory forecast districts.

Winds of around 50 to 60kph with peak gusts of 90 to 110kph are forecast.

Gusts of 105kph have been recorded at Cabramurra.

More details here

2:52pm:

URGENT: An emergency warning is in place for a bushfire burning in the Kybeyan Valley area in the Cooma-Monaro local government area in NSW.

The fire is burning in a south-easterly direction and is impacting properties in The Avenue, Hains Road and Warnocks Road.

People in the area should seek shelter as the fire impacts.

More details on the RFS website

2:50pm:

Firefighters are on high alert across much of Victoria and authorities there have Elvis the air crane on standby at Wangaratta:

2:47pm:

A fire in southern New South Wales is no longer posing a threat to the town of Jerilderie.

More than 70 firefighters and three aircraft are tackling the blaze which has destroyed more than 2,000 hectares of land north east of Conargo since 8:00pm yesterday.

The Rural Fire Service says Jerilderie is no longer under threat due to a change in the wind direction.

The fire remains strong on the western front and is burning heavy timber along the Yanco Creek.

2:44pm:

Police in the New South Wales Illawarra have arrested a man for breaching the total fire ban.

Police were called to the 70-year-old's rural property at Wongawilli early this morning and saw a fire being used for stove cooking in a carport.

It is claimed the stove was old and damaged and hot ash was falling to the ground.

The man was arrested after he repeatedly tried to prevent officers from extinguishing the fire.

2:42pm:

The latest information now says the grassfire at Sunbury has been contained.

2:30pm:

URGENT: A fast-moving grassfire is burning out of control at Sunbury, in Melbourne's north, and an emergency warning has been issued to residents in the area.

The CFA says the blaze could reach the back of houses between Baggy Green street and Vineyard Road.

2:25pm:@rfsmedia #NSWRFS statewide update: 124 incidents 340 trucks 1126 Ffighters 63 Aircraft 53989.59 ha burnt. Stay safe #nswfires

2:10pm:

URGENT: An emergency warning has been issued for people in the vicinity of Nettlefolds Road, Holwell in Tasmania.

Officials say the fire is expected to put the area of Stewarts Road, Holwell Road, Nettlefolds Road, Flowery Gully Road at very high risk from the fire front within 30 minutes. 

More details here

2:04pm:

URGENT: An emergency warning has been issued for people in the vicinity of Mates Gully, Tarcutta in NSW.

The Rural Fire Service says a bushfire is impacting properties in Tarcutta. 

Residents in the area have been advised to shelter as it is too late to leave the area.

The RFS says an evacuation centre is being set up at the town's RSL club.

1:55pm:

Here is an aerial photo of the Yarrabin bushfire in the Cooma Monaro area in southern NSW:

1:52pm:

Hallie Fernandez runs a bed and breakfast along the road under threat at Brogo in NSW, where an out-of-control bushfire is burning on the Warrigal Range Road.

She says they immediately gathered belongings and told guests to leave.

"We grabbed the photo albums, suitcases, clothes and jewellery and ended up getting out while we could.

"We did have guests staying last night and they were supposed to be checking out this morning and they wanted to stay and help us, but we were like, 'No, please go'."

1:34pm:

URGENT: Another emergency warning has been issued for the Ryan Road Fire at Munyabla (Lockhart) in NSW.

The fire is burning near "The Oaks" property on Ryan Road, Munyabla, and is moving in an easterly direction towards the township of Henty.

People are advised to shelter in place as the fire impacts. It is not safe for people to leave the area now.

More details here.

1:27pm:

URGENT: Another emergency warning has been issued in Tasmania, this time for a large bushfire at Flowery Gully near Beaconsfield.

The fire front is expected to put the area of Stewarts Hill, Holwell Road, Nettlefolds Road and Flowery Gully Road at very high risk within 30 minutes.

More details on the Tasmania Fire Service website

1:22pm:

URGENT: The RFS has just revised the fire danger level for the NSW Riverina to "catastrophic".

It says revised observations from the BoM show the northern and eastern Riverina and southern parts of the Lower Central West Plains are expected to reach catastrophic fire danger levels this afternoon ahead of a southerly change.

1:16pm:

The temperature at Sydney's Observatory Hill has just hit 40C.

Meanwhile reporter Karl Hoerr has sent us this photo of a truck which caught fire on the M4 - one of a spate of small fires across the city today.

1:10pm: Scorched earth: firefighters damp down a bushfire at Oura near Wagga Wagga today.

1:00pm: Here's the situation in New South Wales right now:

  • Two separate, fast-moving fires are threatening properties in the state's south.
  • Predictions the state would experience the worst bushfire conditions ever are proving correct.
  • Wind gusts are hitting 70kph and the temperatures are in the high 30s.
  • In the Bega Valley, an out-of-control grassfire is threatening homes near Warrigal Range Rd at Brogo.
  • Near Cooma, a fast-moving fire is expected to hit the Kybean Valley within the next three hours.
  • Residents in the Numeralla and Carlaminda areas have been told it is too late to leave.
  • "Watch and act" alerts are in place for fires at Deniliquin, Bland, Harden and Wagga Wagga.
  • More than 100 fires are burning across the state.

12:54pm: Crews have now contained the fire at Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.

12:51pm: ABC reporter Tyson Shine is with a media convoy on the Tasman Peninsula, where a fire that has already destroyed 100 homes has been upgraded to an emergency and is again threatening properties.

"I am just inside a police road block at Forcett, east of Hobart, where spot fires have flared up near the Arthur Highway.

"The fire front is still very active, fire trucks are constantly rushing by. Hundreds of residents are driving in the opposite direction, as emergency crews evacuate them from the isolated Tasman Peninsula.

"Tensions are rising between police and residents who want to return to their homes. Police are controlling the number of people allowed into the affected areas for safety reasons."

12:47pm: Fires are also breaking out in Canberra. ACT fire crews are fighting small fires across the capital. There is a grass fire at Coppins Crossing Road in Belconnen and a blaze burning in rubbish at Boote Place in Spence. Grass fires at Oaks Estate on the NSW-ACT border and at Hallet Place in Kambah have been extinguished.

12:44pm: The heat is on in Sydney. At 12:30pm it was more than 36C at Sydney Harbour - up 6C in less than two hours. The temperature is expected to be in the low 40s by mid-afternoon.

Firefighters in Sydney have been kept busy by a lot of small fires. Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Tom Cooper says trees and vehicles are alight, including a truck on the M4, and alarms have been going off due to the heat.

12:40pm: Watch Tasmanian authorities give more details on the bushfire emergency at Eaglehawk Neck.

12:35pm: ABC reporter Lisa Mosley took this photo of smoke rising from the distant Yarrabin bushfire.

12:26pm: As temperatures rise in the NSW Illawarra and Shoalhaven, people are being removed from danger. Currently the main fire at Wandandian south of Nowra is contained, but the SES is doorknocking properties telling some people to leave, or prepare to leave.

Hottest days on record


State by state:
NSW: 49.7C, Menindee, January 10, 1939
ACT: 42.2C, Canberra, February 1, 1968
NT: 48.3C, Finke, January 1, 1960
SA: 50.7C, Oodnadatta, January 2, 1960
Qld: 49.5C, Birdsville, December 24, 1972
Tas: 42.2C, Scamander, January 30, 2009
WA: 50.5C, Mardie, February 19, 1998
Vic: 48.8C, Hopetoun, February 7, 2009

Capital cities:
Sydney: 45.3C, January 14, 1939
Canberra: 42.2C, February 1, 1968
Darwin: 40.5C, October 17, 1892
Adelaide: 47.6C, January 12, 1939
Brisbane: 43.2C, January 26, 1940
Hobart: 41.8C, January 4, 2013
Perth: 46.2C, February 23, 1991
Melbourne: 46.4C, February 7, 2009

Further east the coastal towns of Sussex Inlet, Cudmirrah and Berara have been put on notice. People camping and in national parks are also being told to head to population centres at Nowra and Ulladulla.

New South Wales Emergency Services Minister Mike Gallacher says the army has joined with government agencies to mobilise all available fire fighting resources.

"It is a massive concern out there and this sadly has been borne out by experience, not just in Queensland and Victoria over the years but in our own experience, to have all of these agencies in the one place at the one time making these decisions".

12:13pm: Red and yellow shows the most intense parts of the Yarrabin bushfire in NSW this morning. The image was taken from the NSWRFS Line Scan aircraft.

12:10pm: Tasmanian authorities are reinforcing the point that people on the path of the Forcett fire need to get to Pirates Bay boat ramp or Eaglehawk Neck beach now. Specialist remote area teams are on their way from New Zealand and should be in Tasmania tonight.

12:00pm: URGENT: We now have the day's first emergency warning from Tasmania.

The Forcett fire is now impacting on Eaglehawk Neck, Pirates Bay, Doo Town, Old Jetty Road and Blowhole Road.

People in this area need to evacuate now to their nearby safe place - either Pirates Bay boat ramp or Eaglehawk Neck Beach.

More details here.

11:55am: This map shows the location of the Warrigal Range Road fire at Brogo. An emergency alert is out for this fire.