Residents fled to a beach in East Gippsland overnight as a bushfire encircled their town.
It is the same blaze that saw 4000 people shelter on the beach in Mallacoota before more than a quarter of them were evacuated by the Navy.
Fire is not the only danger facing bushfire-affected residents either, with 5000 kilometres of roads to assess and treat for hazardous trees and other damage in Victoria, according to the Country Fire Authority.
While firefighters have welcomed forecast rain over fire grounds in New South Wales and Victoria, the Bureau of Meteorology says the weather shift could be a “double-edged sword”.
Widespread shower and storm activity is expected across eastern New South Wales and eastern Victoria tomorrow, continuing into Friday and the weekend.
A fire in Tamboon escalated to emergency warning level overnight and emergency services reported the fire was creating its own weather pattern there while becoming erratic.
State Control Centre spokesperson Gavin Freeman told 3AW about 12 people remain in the community, with at least nine seeking shelter overnight on the beach.
“Emergency Services may not be able to help you if you decide to stay,” a VicEmergency warning issued at midnight stated.
About 700 personnel were tasked to fight the fire.
A police boat has been sent to Tamboon to check on residents and carry out evacuations if needed.
The majority of Victoria woke up again on Wednesday to a thick layer of smoke, which is forecast to disperse as rain sweeps through the state.
Hazardous air quality alerts will be in place until at least Wednesday evening for the smoke blanketing central and eastern Victoria on Tuesday.
Victoria recorded the worst air quality in the world yesterday, as smoke from East Gippsland fires spread across the state and authorities alerted vulnerable groups to stay indoors.
“When you reach the hazardous air quality range anyone can develop symptoms,” chief health officer Brett Sutton said.
“There can be eye, nose and throat irritation, people can have a cough develop or worse, or even wheeze.”
Rain and cooler weather expected to hit the state on Wednesday afternoon will help disperse the bushfire smoke, improving the air quality forecast for Thursday to a moderate rating.
The state’s Transport Accident Commission said it was “great to hear that rain is on the way, but add smoke to the mix and it’s going to be risky on the roads”.
“Avoid driving if possible and if you do need to drive take your time, put on your headlights and be aware of trees or debris on the roads,” the TAC said on Twitter.
The Bureau of Meteorology said cooler conditions will remain for Victoria until the weekend, with maximum temperatures in the low 20s.
Rain and thunderstorms accompanying the cool change will hardly help firefighters battling blazes in the state’s east and northeast.
Less than 5mm of rain and thunderstorms are forecast for fire-affected areas, bringing dry lightning that could spark new fires.
Central Victoria could see between 5mm and 15mm of rainfall.
The recent bushfires have burned 1.4 million hectares across the state. Four people have died, with 353 homes and 548 other structures destroyed.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Bushfire-ravaged communities are preparing ahead of forecast heavy rainfalls that authorities fear could cause slips and flooding in some parts of NSW.
Rainfall totals of 30 to 80 millimetres are forecast from Thursday, with strong falls possible for fire grounds in the Snowy Mountains, southwest of Sydney and South Coast regions.
The Bega Valley Shire Council said it would work with the Rural Fire Service to manage any impacts caused by the deluge.
“Weather predictions indicate conditions are favourable over the next week for the containment effort,” the council posted on its Facebook page.
“There is predicted rainfall from Thursday onwards — early indications show the possibility of heavy rainfall which may impact on sediment run-off into waterways.
“This situation is being monitored and planned for by council and RFS.”
Meteorologist Sarah Scully said “much-anticipated” showers and storms are forecast to develop across eastern Australia however “this does bring some dangers”.
“Hopefully some of this heavy rainfall will fall over fire sites and help control or even extinguish fires,” she said yesterday.
“But it’s a bit of a double-edged sword as heavy rainfall and gusty thunderstorms bring the potential for flash flooding, particularly in the burnt-out areas of NSW and Victoria which are now vulnerable to land slips and trees coming down.”
She said the storms that form are “likely to be slow-moving” bringing potential heavy rainfall.
NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said filtration and other equipment is being deployed into the water systems to protect drinking supplies.
NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey said the government was using silt curtains to stop ash being washed into Warragamba Dam by heavy rainfall.
The fire service has been working closely with the SES, NSW Police and the BOM to track the location of the heaviest falls.
Despite the easing conditions, fire danger ratings are still high for large parts of NSW on Wednesday.
Cooler conditions are also forecast in parts of South Australia along with the “slight chance” of showers near the eastern border today and about the far southern coasts on Thursday, according to the BOM.
Flare-ups across the Kangaroo Island bushfire are expected to continue for up to two weeks, as fire crews battle to bring it fully under control.
The blaze has already burnt through 210,000 hectares inside a 588km perimeter, destroying 65 homes and hundreds more buildings.
The Country Fire Service said it is still burning in various spots along the 120-kilometre eastern flank.