Australia wildfires raging, almost 100 houses destroyed


Officials added that most of the weekend blazes had been contained and there have been no reports of serious injuries.

Depending on the level of contamination found, areas of Tathra will start to be opened up to residents over the coming days. More than 100 houses were damaged or destroyed, authorities said.

He said the blaze was in remote and rugged bushland with restricted access for the Fire and Rescue NSW pumper and hazardous materials vehicle.

Yesterday the NSW government announced it will appoint former chief of the Victorian Country Fire Authority, Euan Ferguson, to co-ordinate support to communities hit by the fires.

"He called saying, 'Daddy get out, get out, ' and I had to say to him, 'I can't.... you look after your mother, I'm staying and fighting'".

"All I could hear while we drove off was glass breaking and gas bottles exploding", he said, shaking his head.

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At least 70 homes and other buildings have been destroyed in a ferocious firestorm that ripped through a picturesque seaside town on the NSW far south coast and is still threatening other properties.

The Insurance Council of Australia has declared the fire a "catastrophe", meaning claims by those affected by the blaze will be given priority.

"It is being reported that at least 88 homes have been destroyed, mainly in Tathra, but there remains the frightful prospect there will be more once we know the full scale of the disaster", Senator Cormann said.

Fires are still burning in a peat swamp near Cobrico within the perimeter of the Terang-Cobden fire, but firefighters have stopped the spread of the blaze.

Australia's worst wildfire in the last decades occurred in February 2009 in the state of Victoria, when an area of 4, area was burnt down, killing 173 people and injuring 414 others. "That's the silver lining", Mr O'Connor told AAP of the latest fires.

The fires have destroyed 18 houses, killed livestock and razed farms in areas some 200 km southwest of Melbourne.

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For those with damaged and destroyed homes, a revolving shuttle service will operate between the Bega Showground and Tathra tomorrow (March 20) between 10am and 2pm.

"The losses could have been much more significant and, ultimately, there are no funerals to go to".

Mr Spindler, a former SES volunteer, says he's "eternally grateful" to the emergency services who helped his family survive Sunday's fire.

"I want everybody to know that we will do everything we can to make it easier for them".

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley says up to 18 homes had been destroyed by several fires in neighbouring Victoria state. "Like, trucks couldn't have got where the fire was", Matt Sherlock told the Nine Network.

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