Dramatic footage has captured the moment firefighters panicked when another officer was hit by a car in thick smoke, while fires continue to ravage New South Wales threatening homes and lives.
The Gospers Mountain mega blaze is moving rapidly at Bells Line of Road, northwest of Sydney, with the Rural Fire Service predicting a grim night for Saturday.
As of 9pm, four fires remained at emergency level including the Currowan fire near Ulladulla in the Shoalhaven, the Green Wattle Fire south-west of Sydney, Gospers Mountain Fire north-west of Sydney and the Upper Turon Road fire near Lithgow.
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the Gospers Mountain Fire is still ‘extremely active and busy’ and continues to spread at a rapid rate.
He estimated ‘at least 10 to 20 properties’ were impacted as fire activity increases in the area and shared a grim warning that conditions would get worse overnight.
‘What we’ve got to keep in mind is that while the temperatures will drop and the humidity will rise, the vegetation, the landscape is so dry we are still seeing pretty significant fire behaviour and that is going to continue right through the evening,’ he said.
Go-pro footage captured by Sydney Morning Herald photographer Nick Moir shows the moment a Fire and Rescue NSW officer stumbled after he was hit by a private vehicle in the heavy smoke.
‘My understanding is he’s okay, there may be a fracture but we’re not sure yet,’ Commissioner Fitzsimmons told reporters.
A large bushfire is seen burning scarily close to homes in Bargo, southwest of Sydney, on Saturday afternoon
Fire crews and police have spent the day door-knocking and warning residents of the imminent danger and urging them to leave
The Gospers Mountain mega blaze is moving rapidly at Bells Line of Road, northwest of Sydney, with the Rural Fire Service predicting a grim night on Saturday
Horses are seen in a paddock as the Gospers Mountain Fire impacts Bilpin, northwest of Sydney, on Saturday
NSW Rural Fire Service crews fight the Gospers Mountain Fire as it impacts a structure at Bilpin, northwest of Sydney on Saturday
The Gospers Mountain Fire is seen impacting a property in Bilpin, northwest of Sydney, as the blaze remains out-of-control on Saturday
A man is feared to be missing from Dargan, near Lithgow, after his home was engulfed in flames on Saturday.
Towns around Lithgow were impacted by an ember attack in the afternoon, either damaging or completely destroying dozens of properties.
Desperate police scrambled to get people out of their homes and to safety as the huge mega blaze named ‘The Monster’ by locals threatened 20,000 lives.
Fire crews and police spent the day door-knocking and warning residents of the imminent danger and urging them to leave, as 20 homes have been destroyed.
But defiant residents have remained at their properties, using their garden hose and buckets to attempt to save their houses, despite the fire destroying an area six times the size of Singapore.
Police were seen pulling people out of their homes as the flames inched closer, with footage captured by Seven News showing officers running to houses.
What is a fire-generated thunderstorm?
A fire-generated thunderstorm occurs when clouds form from the intense heat of a fire.
The rising, turbulent air draws in cooler air and causes lightning, winds and sometimes rain.
But the rain does not fall directly over the fire, with the lightning causing further damage elsewhere as it can set off more fires.
Emergency crews were so desperate for people to leave their homes they began to throw things at windows to alert people inside.
A southerly wind of up to 90km/h began rolling through the southern coast of NSW on Saturday afternoon, hitting Sydney at 5pm causing the fires to pick up speed.
Commissioner Fitzsimmons said as long as the state is in drought, the fires will continue to burn.
‘We will not get on top of these fires until we get some decent rain, we have said that for weeks and months,’ he said.
Evacuation centres have opened in Bomaderry, Sanctuary Point, ulladulla and Batemans Bay for those in the Shoalhaven area after residents in the are were told to stay on alert.
The Currowan and Tianjara fires in the Shoalhaven were so powerful they caused fire-generated thunderstorms which happen when rising, turbulent air draws in cooler air and causes lightning, high winds and sometimes rain – but not directly over the blazes.
‘This is a very dangerous situation. Monitor the conditions around you and take appropriate action,’ RFS wrote on Twitter.
Residents (pictured) are battling fires with garden hoses as they attempt to save their homes from a fire so terrifying it has been named ‘The Monster’
Police were seen running up to houses and pulling people out as the flames inched closer to properties in Lithgow
Defiant residents have remained at their properties, using their garden hose and buckets to attempt to save their houses
A chilling satellite image of New South Wales shows fires south of Sydney in Shoalhaven
One of the fire-caused thunderstorms brought a splash of rain to Bargo, south of Sydney and prompted firefighters to dance and cheer with joy as they felt the first drops of water fall from the sky.
Resident Rob Corney has remained at his Lithgow property and told the Daily Telegraph the fire is rapidly moving, with ten fire trucks and more than 40 firefighters battling the fire.
‘I’m not going anywhere because I’ve got nowhere else to go. I’m not starting from scratch again,’ he said.
Meanwhile, at least 54 people were injured on Saturday at the Cudlee Creek fire in South Australia, 23 of those including firefighters and two police officers.
On Saturday, ‘The Monster’ continued to rage as temperatures soared to 40C and strong westerly winds whipped across the fireground.
The fire in the Wollemi National Park is currently burning on multiple fronts and has merged with other fires.
It has also spawned new fires including the Grose Valley fire which is coming from the northeast to threaten the Blue Mountains suburbs of Mount Victoria and Blackheath.
The Currowan and Tianjara fires in the Shoalhaven were so powerful that they caused fire-generated thunderstorms which happen when rising, turbulent air draws in cooler air and causes lightning, high winds and sometimes rain – but not directly over the blazes
Horses in a paddock as the Gospers Mountain Fire impacts Bilpin as conditions are expected to worsen across much of the state
A NSW Rural Fire Service firefighter is seen fighting the Gospers Mountain Fire as it impacts properties at Bilpin on Saturday
A water bombing helicopter battles the Green Wattle Creek Fire as it threatens homes in Yanderra in the south west of Sydney
The raging infernos continue to close in on Sydney, with the Gospers Mountain fire now burning across 450,000 hectares
NSW Rural Fire Service crews fight the Gospers Mountain Fire as it impacts a property at Bilpin northwest of Sydney
NSW Rural Fire Service crews fight the Gospers Mountain Fire as it impacts a structure at Bilpin, northwest of Sydney on Saturday
NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said about 8.30pm there were still 120 fires burning across the State.
‘We continue to have just on 3,000 firefighters and emergency services personnel engaged in the fire operations and we have four fires still burning at the emergency warning alert level,’ he said in a press conference.
A chilling satellite image of New South Wales shows fires south of Sydney in Shoalhaven.
Other towns across NSW have been issued with the terrifying warning that it is now ‘too late to leave’ as firefighters endure one of the worst bushfire days yet.
Residents in the Blue Mountains were warned on Saturday morning it would be time to evacuate as the fires inch closer to homes.
On Saturday night, a Big Bash League game between the Sydney Thunder and Adelaide Strikers had to be stopped half-way through due to thick smoke at Manuka Oval in Canberra.
The issue of players’ visibility and health was discussed during the pre-match medical briefing but officials decided it was good to begin.
However, wind continued to push smoke into the ground and conditions got worse so play was stopped at 9.14pm.
NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said about 8.30pm there were still 120 fires burning across the State (Bilpin pictured)
On Saturday night, a Big Bash League game between the Sydney Thunder and Adelaide Strikers had to be stopped half-way through due to thick smoke (pictured)
The issue of players’ visibility and health was discussed during the pre-match medical briefing but officials decided it was good to begin
Play is suspended as bushfire smoke covers the ground during the Big Bash League match between the Sydney Thunder and the Adelaide Strikers at Manuka Oval
At least 54 people were injured on Saturday at the Cudlee Creek fire in South Australia (pictured), 23 of those including firefighters and two police officers
A property is lost as The Gospers Mountain Fire impacts, at Bilpin, north-west of Sydney on Saturday night
Properties have been lost as the Gospers Mountain Fire continued to ravage homes north-west of Sydney on Saturday
‘Some fires on the south coast have generated thunderstorms ahead of the change. The change will increase winds and see erratic fire behaviour. These are dangerous fire conditions. Do not be in the path of a fire,’ the warning read.
The southerly wind change caused thick smoke and strong winds at Sydney Airport, causing major delays of more than an hour for both the international and domestic terminals.
Southerly winds swept through the state on Saturday evening and made it too difficult for planes to land or take-off, Nine News reported.
Officials released several stark emergency warnings on Saturday afternoon, saying it is too late to escape and residents should ‘seek shelter’.
New South Wales motorists who plan to load up their cars and drive to family and friends on Saturday were warned to cancel all travel plans.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said families should avoid travel, as the ‘unpredictable’ conditions could see fires become ‘very dangerous quickly’.
Christmas is likely to be cancelled for the hundreds of Australians forced to flee their homes, and others have been told not to risk travelling to see friends or family.
Firefighters are seen battling the Gospers Mountain fire near Bilpin, north-west of Sydney on Saturday evening
Other towns across NSW have been issued with the terrifying warning that it is now ‘too late to leave’ as firefighters endure one of the worst bushfire days yet (Bilpin pictured)
A view of a building destroyed by a fire in Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills as residents helped to put out spot fires
Other towns across NSW have been issued with the terrifying warning that it is now ‘too late to leave’ as firefighters endure one of the worst bushfire days yet. Pictured: a water bombing helicopter in Yanderra, south-west of Sydney
A burnt Christmas decoration lies on the ground (pictured) in front of a house recently destroyed by bushfires on the outskirts of the town of Bargo on Saturday
Residents in Bilpin (pictured) have been told to evacuate as the Gospers Mountain fire reaches emergency levels on Saturday
The town of Bilpin (pictured) has been on high alert as the Gospers Mountain fire rages on Saturday, and residents have now been told to leave
As fires rage across the country, officials are now considering closing the Princes Highway, cutting off communities across NSW and Victoria.
The Hume Highway was closed at lunchtime on Saturday between Campbelltown and Alpine, causing travel chaos for hundreds of motorists.
In a major blow for Christmas drivers, the Great Western Highway was closed at lunchtime on Saturday in both directions at Marrangaroo, west of Lithgow, between Reserve Road and Barton Avenue.
Roadtrippers preparing to travel to see friends or family this Christmas have been warned to delay their trips.
‘If anyone was considering driving south of Nowra today please don’t, Ms Berejiklian warned.
‘We’re concerned the three active fires in that region could suddenly become very dangerous quickly. When things are at catastrophic level it means unpredictable wind temperatures wind conditions and also active fires.
‘Please do not do anything that’s going to put you in harm’s way. We know just a few days before Christmas family and friends are getting together.
Firefighters stare down a raging bushfire at Bilpin in NSW’s Blue Mountains (pictured), next to a major road and dangerously close to homes
The Bilpin fire, on the outskirts of Sydney, is threatening homes and communities (pictured) as firefighters struggle to contain the blaze
A resident (pictured) uses a commercial watering machine to hose down his property as the Grose Valley Fire approaches Bilpin on Saturday
Firemen inspect a house recently destroyed by bushfires (pictured) on the outskirts of the town of Bargo on Saturday
Hundreds of fires blazing across NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Adelaide on Saturday (pictured) as scorching temperatures and high winds make them difficult to contain
Officials released several stark emergency warnings on Saturday afternoon, saying it is too late to escape and residents should ‘seek shelter’ (Bilpin pictured)
‘We know it might be stressful to change your plans. We would much rather everybody was safe and not in harm’s way.’
NSW is in a state of emergency, as 129 fires rage across the state as of 5pm Saturday, 50 of which are out of control and impossible to contain.
Fire officials also issued a grave warning that the escalating conditions may make it impossible for them to save those caught in the flames.
Scorching temperatures across Australia on Saturday will see some of the worst conditions yet for the country’s exhausted firefighters.
New South Wales Fire crews are still mourning the loss of two brave volunteers who died after battling the Green Wattle Creek fire on Thursday evening.
Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, a father-of-three and Geoffrey Keaton, 32, also a father, had courageously fought the fire as part of the Horsley Park RFS bridage.
On Saturday morning, the brigade went back out to tackle the blazing inferno, dedicating their battle to their fallen mates.
‘In true Horsley Park spirit, our crew are heading out today as part of a Cumberland Zone Strike Team in memory of Geoff and Andrew,’ the team wrote on its Facebook page.
Smoke from a bushfire is seen near Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills (picture) on Saturday
A firefighter is seen tackling a fire near Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills (pictured) on Saturday
A Woodside resident battles a fire (pictured) as it crosses Ridge Road at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills in Adelaide on Friday
The Cudlee Creek fire destroys a plot of land at Woodside (pictured), just 40 minutes outside of Adelaide, on Friday
A firefighter struggles to tackle a fire in the NSW town of Bargo on Friday evening, which is reported to have destroyed more than 50 homes
‘To all crews in the field today, stay safe and look after each other.’
Two people were declared dead after a night of raging bushfires in South Australia, and hundreds of homes are on the brink of destruction.
One resident died in the Adelaide Hills as a fire ripped through the area, and another in a car crash in Lameroo.
At least 23 firefighters have been taken to hospital with injuries after battling more than 100 fires across South Australia, some just 40 minutes from the centre of Adelaide.
On Saturday evening it was confirmed 54 people in total had been injured in the fires.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall told reporters: ‘There has been a further death in the Charleston area in Adelaide.
‘This is of course on top of the death which occurred in Lameroo. This was a result of a car crash in the Lameroo area which ignited the fire which was in that area yesterday.’
‘My fear is this is only the tip of the iceberg. It is going to a real scene of devastation, especially for those people in the Adelaide Hills who have been most affected to date.’
John Glatz, the former Oakbank Racing Club chairman, is in an induced coma in an intensive care unit, ABC reported.
A view of a building destroyed by a fire in Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills, Adelaide on Saturday
A general view shows smoke from a bushfire near Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills after it was ravaged by flames on Saturday
A building destroyed by fire is seen on Cudlee Creek Rd, Cudlee Creek in the Adelaide Hills, after fires tore through on Saturday
On Saturday evening it was confirmed 54 people in total had been injured in the fires in South Australia, Adelaide Hills pictured
He is thought to have suffered burns to 60 per cent of his body as he stayed behind in a desperate attempt to save his horses and home.
Blistering heat is escalating the fire risk with Adelaide reaching 43.9C following the hottest night on record.
Temperatures throughout the state soared to the high 40s, while Keith reached a scorching 49.2C.
In Victoria, after days of blistering heat a cool change has brought dangerous dry lightning, increasing the fire danger for firefighters tackle more than 100 blazes across the state.
Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the 21,000 hectare Grampians bushland fire was so intense it had ‘created its own weather’, triggering lightning and spot fires.
On Saturday morning, a 47-year-old man was charged with lighting three bushfires in the Roxburgh Park area on Friday night.
He has been charged with 11 charges including intentionally cause bush-fire and criminal damage by fire.
A home lost to a bushfire (pictured) in Buxton as the Green Wattle Creek fire threatens homes in the south west of Sydney
Fires swept areas of Lexton, Victoria on Friday (pictured) as conditions worsened thanks to high temperatures
Victoria Police evacuated a number of people from Lexton after it was threatened by the fire at Amphitheatre (pictured)
The charges also relate to a series of fires dating back to October this year.
Fires in Victoria’s East Gippsland region that have been burning for weeks have flared up after a cool change, prompting emergency warnings for nearby towns.
Residents of the small community of Brookville – about 390 kilometres east of Melbourne – were told on Saturday it was too late to leave their homes and to shelter indoors.
‘You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive,’ the warning reads.
On Friday 110 fires were already burning, but another 33 started in the early hours of Saturday morning.
A cool change swept across the state on Friday night, bringing dry lighting and an increase in fire danger to the area, where bushfires have been burning since November 21.
A similar warning for nearby Stirling, Tambo Crossing and Wattle Circle was downgraded to watch and act level on Saturday evening after a bushfire at Tambo Crossing, which is now almost 37,000 hectares in size, began ‘creating its own weather’.
Residents of the largely farming community have been told to leave while they can.
The Bargo fire (pictured) continued to burn overnight, after reducing the area to an ‘apocalyptic wasteland’
Burnt-out property is seen following the Green Wattle Creek Fire in NSW on Friday (pictured). It’s feared 40 homes have been lost in the bushfire that tore through the area
‘Don’t wait, leaving now is the safest option – conditions may change and get worse very quickly. Emergency Services may not be able to help you if you decide to stay,’ the new warning reads.
Surrounding roads and tracks have been closed and residents have been told to avoid entering forested areas as the situation may change rapidly due to spot fires.
A relief centre has been set up at the Omeo Memorial Hall, 60 kilometres north, for those who have already left.
Residents in neighbouring Ensay have also been told to leave their homes, while a number of townships have been told to monitor conditions the VicEmergency website.
Authorities said the fires are in steep and inaccessible terrain, making it hard for firefighters on the ground and in the air to reach.
In the state’s west, residents of Lexton, near Ballarat, were told to evacuate overnight after the cool change threatened to push a nearby bushfire towards the town.
The warning was lifted on Saturday morning and there is no current threat to communities.
‘Fire crews, aided by heavy machinery have managed to significantly slow the spread of the fire,’ the advice message says.