The NSW Rural Fire Service has told tourists in the bushfire-devastated NSW South Coast area that they need to leave the area immediately.
Social media posts were sent out at 10.35pm last night, explaining that Saturday is expected to bring extreme conditions, “the same or worse than New Years Eve”.
Tourist Leave Zone – South Coast Bush Fires
Dangerous conditions for holiday makers on the South Coast of NSW this weekend
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 1, 2020
The posts outline a “tourist leave zone” which spreads from Eden up to Batemans Bay. A statement by the RFS also point-blank told tourists “It is not safe. Do not be here on Saturday.”
The main issue is the likelihood of road closures which could prevent the holiday influx of tourists from exiting, along with residents who need to vacate. As we saw with areas in VIC like Mallacoota, if the fire surrounds you, you can’t leave at all.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian echoed the RFS’ statement yesterday, saying:
“Where roads can be accessed, we will be encouraging tourists, especially, to move out of those areas whilst it’s safe to do so.”
But she asked for those leaving the area to remain calm and be patient, as debris and fallen trees may need to be cleared from some roads. She urged people not to take matters into their own hands when travelling and to obey road closures, saying “just because you can’t see flames doesn’t mean the road is safe to use.”
As the South Coast area is still lacking communication services in many spots, the RFS are asking those aware of the danger to share the information to anyone who may be affected.
The NSW South Coast fires have been the worst of the season when it comes to loss of property and life, with at least 176 homes destroyed and seven people reported dead since Monday. Power is also out across a lot of the affected area, and defence forces have been deployed to assist with evacuations and support.
For more information, visit the RFS site here.