Christmas could be ruined for thousands of families as roads are closed across Australia on the biggest festive driving day.
As motorists load up their cars with presents to drive to friends and family on Saturday, officials have warned residents to cancel their plans.
It comes as firefighters tackle one of the worst days of bushfires yet, with another two Australians confirmed dead and hundreds of homes on the brink of destruction.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned families not to travel, as the ‘unpredictable’ conditions could see fires become ‘very dangerous quickly’.
The raging infernos continue to close in on Sydney, with the Gospers Mountain fire now burning across 450,000 hectares
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.
As fires rage across the country, officials are now considering closing the Princes Highway and Hume Highway, cutting off communities across NSW and Victoria.
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.
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
‘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.
‘We know it might be stressful to change your plans. We would much rather everybody was safe and not in harm’s way.’
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
An emergency warning has been put on the huge 450,000 hectare Gospers Mountain fire, which is blanketing Sydney in a haze of toxic smoke.
NSW is in a state of emergency, as 101 fires rage across the state as of 7am 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.
Hundreds of fires blazing across NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Adelaide on Saturday (pictured) as scorching temperatures and high winds make them difficult to contain
Two residents died in South Australia, one in the Adelaide Hills as a fire ripped through the area, and another in a car crash in Lameroo.
23 firefighters had also been taken to hospital with injuries after battling more than 100 fires across the state.
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.
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.
At least 50 homers were destroyed in the NSW town of Bargo (pictured) as it succumbed to an out of control fire on Friday
The NSW Rural Fire Service issued an emergency warning for the 250,000 hectare fire at Gospers Mountain
This map released by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service shows how the bushfires burning south of Sydney could spread on Saturday (pictured)
A home lost to a bushfire (pictured) in Buxton as the Green Wattle Creek fire threatens homes in the south west of Sydney
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
The NSW Rural Fire Service said there had been ‘an increase of fire activity north of Lithgow’, and that people should immediately seek shelter.
There is a catastrophic fire danger for Greater Sydney, Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges, according to the RSF.
A grave warning was issued by NSW Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers, with winds expected to pick up on Saturday morning and fan the flames towards people’s homes.
‘We’ll do our best but don’t rely on that,’ he said.
‘Don’t expect a plane to be overhead straight away and don’t expect a helicopter. Don’t wait for a warning.
‘Think about what you are going to do if you are in the path of the fires.’
Andrew O’Dwyer (left) and Geoffrey Keaton (right) were killed when their truck rolled off the road after hitting a fallen tree on Thursday night at Buxton, south of Sydney
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.
‘To all crews in the field today, stay safe and look after each other.’
The courageous Horsley Park Rural Fire Brigade go back to work less than 48 hours after the loss of two beloved team members
Members of the Horsley Park Rural Fire Service broke down in tears as they remembered the firefighters on Friday
A moving poem written by two 11 year-old girls from Riverwood, NSW, was shared by the NSW Rural Fire Service (pictured)
A Woodside resident battles a fire (pictured) as it crosses Ridge Road at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills in Adelaide on Friday
An aerial picture shows the smoke from the fires ravaging the east coast earlier this week (pictured) with temperatures expected to soar on Saturday
The fire at Cudlee Creek, a short drive from Adelaide, is threatening homes across the Adelaide Hills (pictured)
In South Australia, a terrifying blaze sits less than 40 minutes from the centre of Adelaide.
Two people have been killed and an unknown number of homes have been destroyed after the blaze at Cudlee Creek in the Adelaide Hills burned through more than 17,000 hectares.
Conditions are becoming increasingly dangerous for firefighters and residents alike, after 200 blazes broke out on Friday alone.
Four firefighters are being treated for burns and smoke inhalation, while three police officers were injured in a fire south of Adelaide.
The Cudlee Creek fire destroys a plot of land at Woodside (pictured), just 40 minutes outside of Adelaide, on Friday
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall confirmed a person was killed in a car crash after it hit a tree eat of Lameroo, near the Murraylands fires.
On Saturday morning, a second person was known to have died in Charleston. The incident is thought to have involved a tree and a power line, police said.
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.
A helicopter dumps water on a bushfire burning in the Grampians bushland (pictured) in Victoria
A CFA firefighter is seen in burnout land near Mount Glasgow, Victoria (pictured) as the state continues to battle more than 100 fires
Temperatures across Australia will soar on Saturday, with Sydney’s CBD reaching a choking 36C
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.
The charges also relate to a series of fires dating back to October this year.
On Friday 110 fires were already burning, but another 33 started in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Around 27 of these are out of control.
Locals have been told it’s too late to leave the Tambo Crossing and Ensay areas, as the huge fires in east Gippsland burns out of control.
‘You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. The safest option is to take shelter indoors immediately. It is too late to leave,’ officials warned.
The Gospers Mountain fire, which is ravaging the Wollemi National Park, was upgraded to emergency level on Saturday
Over 200 additional trucks from the NSW Fire and Rescue Service and RFS have been allocated on Saturday and residents are being urged to be prepared to leave.
‘If you’re somewhere you have to go down a single road, you’re in a very heavily vegetated area, then our message is think very carefully about staying in that area,’ RFS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers said.
‘And maybe, not necessarily evacuate, but go somewhere else in the heat, go to the beach, go to a shopping centre, go somewhere that’s not bushfire prone.
‘Firefighters will do their best to look after your house but we just want to get through the day with lives in tact.’
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
Strong winds are expected to build on Saturday afternoon and make their way up the NSW coast, impacting fires raging across the state.
‘We are expecting a really gusty southerly to come through this afternoon,” Jane Golding from the Bureau of Meteorology said.
‘So that southerly will make challenging firefighting conditions, but also the wind gusts along the coast are looking like they will be approaching gale force.
‘So quite dangerous, quite damaging, strong enough to bring large limbs of trees down, disrupt powerlines, things like that.’