Live: Bushfires burn across southern Australia

Live: Bushfires burn across southern Australia

Live: Bushfires burn across southern Australia

Updated 19 January 2013, 19:10 AEST

Fire crews in Victoria and NSW are keeping a close watch on out-of-control bushfires that continue to burn in both states. Follow our live coverage for updates throughout the day.

Fire crews in Victoria and New South Wales continue to monitor bushfires burning out-of-control.

Calmer and cooler conditions have seen the fire threat eased in both states. There are no current emergency alerts and no properties are in immediate danger.

The fires turned deadly on Friday evening when Victorian police confirmed the death of a man near Seaton in the Gippsland region. Fire services believe they will be fighting the Gippsland fire for days, if not weeks.

New South Wales fire officials say 122 fires are still burning, including 17 that are uncontained.

Follow our live coverage for updates throughout the day. (All times AEDT.)

7.05pm: Victoria's Country Fire Authority says Seaton residents are now able to return home. The CFA says limited access to the area is available only to residents, property owners, recovery workers, council and road workers and local business owners.

Read the CFA's full statement here.

6.08pm: An update on the situation in New South Wales:

The RFS says it has contained five fires that were burning out of control.

Firefighters are working to extinguish 122 fires, including 17 that are burning out of control.

6.01pm: Farmers hit by fire in Victoria's Gippsland region say they are concerned about the health of their animals.

Jeanette Howie, a dairy farmer, says some farmers haven't been allowed back to check on their livestock.

We know there's damaged cattle out there, cattle that need destroying, cattle that need water and cattle that need fodder, all of which we can manage ourselves. We don't need an agency to manage it, all we need is to be allowed to go in there.

5.16pm: Victoria's Country Fire Authority have issued a watch and act alert for a small, slow moving grass and scrub fire in the Narrawong area in the state's south-west.

The CFA says the fire is expected to impact Heathmere, Narrawong, Narrawong North, and the Narrawong State Forest anytime within the next 2 hours.

Read the full alert here.

4.57pm: Firefighters in north-west New South Wales say they are worried lightning could ignite more blazes.

Scott Doogan, who has a property on the edge of the Warrumbungle National Park, says he is anxiously watching for flare-ups.

The grass areas and the farmers on that side must be pretty concerned because it's still not over yet, that's for sure.

4.30pm: Victoria's Country Fire Authority has held a community meeting in Wellington Shire, in the state's east, following the devastating fires that affected Heyfield and Seaton.

Scott Rosetti, the shire's mayor, told News 24 many residents are concerned about what is still to come.

Victorian communities look ahead to extreme conditions Video: Victorian communities look ahead to extreme conditions (ABC News)

4:16pm: An update on the situation in New South Wales:

Cooler temperatures have helped firefighters put out 15 fires and contain another seven burning across the state.

There are 127 fires still burning, including 22 uncontained blazes, but all fires have been downgraded to advice status and no properties are currently under threat.

Joel Kursawe from the Rural Fire Service says crews are trying to make inroads on as many fires as possible ahead of another blast of hot weather next week.

We'll be keeping our eye on the Millingandi fire at Bega in which we unfortunately saw two properties lost yesterday afternoon, the fire at Boorowa and our large fire at Coonabarabran which has been burning for just under a week at the moment, so there's still a lot of work to do on these fire grounds but fortunately we've got a couple of days of more benign weather that will assist us.

3.24pm: In Victoria, police explosives experts are investigating the large Glenmaggie fire that broke out in the Gippsland region on Thursday.

One man died in the fire, which burnt through more than 50,000 hectares of bush and destroyed homes in Glenmaggie and Seaton.

Police are appealing for information from witnesses who were in the Aberfeldy area when the fire started.

Firefighters are using today's cooler conditions to try and control the blaze and build containment lines around communities.

Country Fire Authority incident controller Ben Rankin says roads are being reopened in the Seaton area to allow people to assess damage to homes and properties.

We are trying to assess the impact of the fire in terms of asset loss, houses, sheds, stock, fencing and other. That will also become a little bit clearer as the day progresses. We are working as hard as we can to open as many of those roads as possible and to make them safe for public passing.

2.35pm: The New South Wales RFS shared this photo of a firefighter helping out a goat near Coonabarabran.

1:58pm: The New South Wales RFS says 127 fires are now burning throughout the state. Twenty-two blazes are uncontained, but no properties are threatened and all highways are now open.

RFS spokesman Joel Kursawe expects aerial searches will reveal more fires, after last night's lightning.

It's highly likely that there are going be new fires but we need to appreciate the land mass of the state. A lot of this area is in very deep and rugged terrain and it takes a plane to go out and fly over these areas for those fires to be detected.

1:49pm: More than 160 firefighters are working to contain the fire which is burning on West Head within the Ku-ring-gai National Park, north of Sydney. The fire is burning to the east of the West Head Trail.

1:38pm: The Victorian CFA has just issued advice that the Waubra grass fire is now under control.

1:25pm: The Victorian CFA says a grassfire is burning out of control in the Waubra area, north-west of Ballarat. The CFA says residents in Glendaruel, Waubra, Addington and Learmonth may be able to see smoke. No alerts have been issued for the fire.

1:06pm: Overnight rain in northern New South Wales has dried off and firefighters are dealing with flare-ups from a blaze burning in and around the Warrumbungles.

Farmer Stuart Dugan farms just on the edge of the park and has had a third of his place burned out.

Oh yeah, she's dried off already, yeah she's ready to go. No this fire, if we get wind, she's going to pick up again for sure.

12:44pm: Here's more from Alison Savage reporting from Maffra in Gippsland:

Alison Savage reports Gippsland residents fear next week's weather forecast Video: Alison Savage reports Gippsland residents fear next week's weather forecast (ABC News)

12:34pm: Victorian fire authorities have confirmed nine houses have been lost in Victoria's Gippsland region. But the CFA has confirmed the fire that threatened the small community of Licola, has now been controlled.

12:09pm: ABC reporter Alison Savage is in Maffra in Victoria's Gippsland region. She has told ABC News 24 the situation has eased and is considered stable. But she says locals are nervous about the forecast for coming days.

People here have been told that next week, particularly Thursday, could be a dangerous day for the fire that's been burning in Gippsland. There are fears that it will push further east and could threaten a few other towns in Gippsland. They're saying that Thursday's going to be quite hot and they're worried that the wind could change and push the fire further east over into those towns.

12:05pm: The NSW RFS says spot fires caused by overnight lightning in the Warrumbungles region have been put out. The RFS says crews are hoping rain forecast for tomorrow will eventuate. They says there is a 90 per cent chance of 10 to 20 millimetres of rain in the area.

11:57am: UPDATE on the Millingandi fire burning in south-eastern NSW. The RFS says residents along the Princes Highway between Wolumla and Millingandi are at threat from the fire. Properties on Red Gum Rd, Forest Lane and Yellow Pinch, north-west of Merimbula are advised to stay up to date with the fire conditions. Firefighters have been working to establish containment lines. Two homes and two sheds have been destroyed in the fire.

11:50am: NEW FIRE Firefighters are working to contain a fire which is burning on West Head within the Ku-ring-gai National Park, to Sydney's north.

This morning crews have been back-burning in the national park, and the RFS says this may result in increased fire activity being visible to members of the public. Smoke is affecting surrounding areas including suburbs on Sydney's northern beaches, north shore and the central coast. This may increase during the day, due to back-burning.

11:41am: Seaton resident Helene Dennis says her property was under a 'total bombardment of fire'. But she says the CFA saved homes, a hayshed and cattle and have done a wonderful job in preventing the situation getting worse.

Seaton hit by 'total bombardment of fire' Video: Seaton hit by 'total bombardment of fire' (ABC News)

11:37am: The Victorian CFA has updated the situation in Gippsland, saying the fire in the Licola area is being controlled.

11:23am: The New South Wales RFS has issued updated advice for the Wambelong fire burning in the Warrumbungles in the north-west of the state.

They say despite yesterday's conditions, crews managed to hold the fire within existing containment lines. Overnight the region received a small amount of rain.

11:13am: Warnings for the major fires burning across NSW have been downgraded and all highways have been reopened.

The Princes Highway is open between Wolumla and Pambula in the Merimbula area on the state's south coast after a grass fire. The Newell Highway is also open between Gilgandra and Warkton, south of Coonabarabran.

RFS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers says now is the time to consolidate.

If people see smoke in an area that does not look like there's fire trucks at, please report it straight away to triple-zero because we just want to get across these fires really quickly and obviously get them out before any worsening of weather next week.

11:00am: Alison Savage reports from outside the fire relief centre in Gippsland.

Alison Savage reports from the Gippsland fire relief centre Video: Alison Savage reports from the Gippsland fire relief centre (ABC News)

9:58am: Resident Helene Dennis says she was lucky to save her Seaton home in Gippsland overnight, but most of her property was badly damaged. She says the fire swept through the area in a very short space of time.

It is a very devastating scene actually. It looks like a moonscape at Seaton, which use to be a lovely little hamlet of farmers.

9:54am: In Gippsland, phone services have been cut to busy camping grounds at Paradise Valley and Montana on the Licola Road and many roads remain closed by fallen trees.

9:44am: NSW fire officials say the number of fires burning across the state is set to keep rising after a band of lightning moved through the state overnight.

Watch and act alerts remain in place for blazes at Cessnock, Deans Gap, Boorowa, Coonabarabran and Millingandi. RFS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers says the fire service is launching aerial searches to find more blazes.

We're launching some aircraft this morning, cloud cover notwithstanding, to try and just see if we can spot other fires that have been started by lightning that we're not yet aware of. Inevitably there will be more, so we really want to just get a handle on where we have fires burining, even if they're just smouldering, because they will end up being problem fires later on.

8:06am: The NSW RFS says 29 fires are not contained. Brydie O'Connor from the RFS says conditions are a lot milder across the state today, but more lightning is expected.

We're seeing temperatures generally in the mid-20s, into the 30s. In some areas such as in the Coonabarabran area we're seeing in the mid-30s, however the key difference with yesterday is that we're not seeing those strong winds, so there is a bit of reprieve, however the bureau have advised that we are likely to see some more lightning today.

8:03am: A long-time Licola resident, Ralph Barraclough, says it will be difficult to stop the fire reaching the town. He says the fire has already crossed the Macalister River into heavily forested country with high fuel loads.

And they're not going to stop it. It's in this elevated fine fuel. Yes there's a lot of denuded country in this country but there's just too much of this damn elevated fine fuel. It's following the path of what happened in 1965... it wouldn't surprise me if it went over the border.

7:45am: In South Australia, the Country Fire Service says a bushfire in Bundaleer Forest in the state's mid-north is contained, but continues to burn within control lines.

Crews strengthened containment lines around the blaze overnight, which has burned at least 2,500 hectares.

The CFS says conditions on the fire ground are continually changing, and it's urging residents and road users to remain alert.

7:40am: Fire crews will be battling the bushfire in Victoria's Gippsland on three fronts today. The fire has burned through 50,000 hectares of forest and farming country.

Incident controller Michael Masters says bulldozers and ground crews are working to stop the fire moving into the Thomson Dam catchment.

Protection of that forest is critical for securing a good water supply for Melbourne.

6:20am: Victorian authorities are waiting for first light this morning to start assessing the damage from a huge fire that burnt through the town of Glenmaggie yesterday afternoon.

Crews are also building containment lines to protect the town of Heyfield and to stop the fire moving east into the Avon Wilderness. In the north the fire is heading towards the town of Licola.

6:55am: NSW fire crews say they worked overnight to extinguish about 15 fires started by lightning around the Warrumbungles, and light rain helped ease the situation.

They're now working to stop any spread of the fire south-west of Coonabarabran, where the Newell Highway remains closed.

The Princes Highway is also closed in both directions between Wolumla and Pambula in the Merimbula area on the NSW south coast, and in the north, smoke is affecting visibility on the Bruxner Highway near Drake, east of Tenterfield.

6:30am: In New South Wales, the Rural Fire Service (RFS) says it hopes to make the most of milder conditions today to bolster containment lines around a number of out-of-control bushfires. Watch-and-act warnings are in place for communities near Cessnock, Deans Gap, Boorowa, the Warrumbungles and Millingandi.

RFS spokeswoman Brydie O'Connor says efforts will concentrate on the containing the 25 fires that are out of control.

The focus for the morning will be down in the Shoalhaven area and on the Deans Gap fire. We've still got a lot of work to do on the Wambelong in the Coonabarabran area, that's burnt more than 50,000 hectares.

So we will be distributing aircraft right around the state as it's required, as well as firefighters, just to try to bring these 120 fires under control.

6:20am: Victorian authorities are waiting for first light this morning to start assessing the damage from a huge fire that burnt through the town of Glenmaggie yesterday afternoon.

Cooler conditions overnight have allowed fire crews to shift their defences to the town of Heyfield. Work is also underway on the western flank of the fire to stop it spreading into the Thomson Catchment, which feeds Melbourne's main water supply. Planes will be in the air to track the edge of the fire later this morning.

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