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Australia's 'apocalyptic' bushfire towns go into 'panic stations' as supermarket shelves are cleared, petrol stations run dry, water supplies are contaminated and communities struggle without power

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 1/01/2020 Brittany Chain For Daily Mail Australia
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Residents in Australian towns ravaged by the bushfires have gone into 'panic stations' following 'apocalyptic' blazes that left 50,000 families without power and entire towns with a contaminated water supply. 

Desperate locals and tourists were clearing shelves in supermarkets and filling up their fuel on Wednesday.

Pictures: Australia's bushfire emergency

Weather conditions are expected to worsen by Saturday and there are currently road closures impacting traffic in and out of fire-affected communities across the New South Wales south coast and parts of Victoria.

Water supplies in both states have been contaminated in some areas, while it is simply running out all together in others. 

One woman who was in the town of Tura Beach phoned the ABC and described the situation as 'panic stations'.

'A car queue of 50 waiting to get petrol and people in Woolworths clearing the shelves… apocalyptic,' she said.

Steve McKenzie, managing director of East Gippsland Water, said a 'boil water notice' had been issued in multiple towns.

He said the water could remain contaminated until late tomorrow - when it could finally be tested - and also urged residents in fire-ravished towns to use as little water as possible to reserve what they could for battling blazes. 

Supermarkets are giving out bottled water for free and more supplies are en route. 

Bega Valley Shire Council announced a boil water notice for Quaama, Cobargo, Bermagui, Beauty Point, Fairhaven, Wallaga Lake, Wallaga Lake Heights, Wallaga Lake Koori Village and Akolele on Wednesday.

'All water for drinking, food preparation, the cleaning of teeth and ice-making needs to be boiled before use,' a statement read. 

a group of people standing in front of a store: Ulladulla Woolworths opened its doors on Wednesday to give locals unable to leave the chance to stock up on supplies

Ulladulla Woolworths opened its doors on Wednesday to give locals unable to leave the chance to stock up on supplies
© Provided by Daily Mail

More than 110 fires are still burning across NSW on New Years Day after conditions worsened last week. Infernos are also still ravaging Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

At least seven people on the NSW south coast and another in Victoria died on Tuesday and Wednesday, as destructive infernos razed entire communities to the ground. 

On the south coast alone, at least 176 homes were destroyed and another 50,000 left without power. 

The townspeople have been told it is too late to leave - and in some cases it is even too dangerous for fire crews to enter.   

As a result, residents in Ulladulla in the Shoalhaven area and nearby Narooma took the opportunity on Wednesday to stock up on essentials at the local Woolworths. 

a man with dark hair and a sunset in the background: This picture taken on December 31, 2019 shows a firefighter hosing down trees and flying embers in an effort to secure nearby houses from bushfires near the town of Nowra © Provided by Daily Mail This picture taken on December 31, 2019 shows a firefighter hosing down trees and flying embers in an effort to secure nearby houses from bushfires near the town of Nowra A firefighter hosing down trees and flying embers in an effort to secure nearby houses in Nowra on Tuesday © Provided by Daily Mail A firefighter hosing down trees and flying embers in an effort to secure nearby houses in Nowra on Tuesday

But they have been urged not to over-buy out of panic.  

Amanda Findley, the Mayor of Shoalhaven City Council, reminded her townspeople the power is not predicted to be restored any time soon - meaning most homes have no access to refrigeration therefore shouldn't be looking to unnecessarily stock up on food.

She went on to say there would not be a shortage of food and asked people to buy only what they need.  

Craig Scott, the store manager at the Ulladulla Woolworths, said the store was running on a recently purchased generator - but it was close to running out of fuel.

He was hoping local boat owners would share their diesel to ensure essential food and milk wouldn't spoil.

'The power's out in town, but we decided to open the store just for necessities, so people can get nappies, baby food, all that sort of stuff,' he said.

He noted about 300 people were lining up on Wednesday morning, and that most people waited about two hours to be served.

a man riding a wave on top of a body of water: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons are in Batemans Bay (pictured) experiencing the devastation firsthand © Provided by Daily Mail NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons are in Batemans Bay (pictured) experiencing the devastation firsthand The town of Cobargo, where Mr Salway and his son died on Monday bravely battling to defend their homes, has been levelled © Provided by Daily Mail The town of Cobargo, where Mr Salway and his son died on Monday bravely battling to defend their homes, has been levelled

Local petrol stations have been forced to post signs letting residents know they've been run completely dry of petrol - while others simply don't have any power to operate.  

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday evening said power was slowly starting to be restored in towns, and thanked those who had been affected for their patience.  

NSW Police confirmed a total of seven people have been killed and two are unaccounted for in the South Coast bushfires since Monday.

The deaths include dairy farmer Patrick Salway, 29, and his father Robert, 63, who died trying to save their property in Cobargo, near Bega.

Young father and volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul, 28, was also among those confirmed dead after he was killed by a fire tornado.  

a close up of some water: Another satellite image shows the devastation of the fires devastating the coastal town of Batemans Bay early Wednesday morning as the blaze continues to spread © Provided by Daily Mail Another satellite image shows the devastation of the fires devastating the coastal town of Batemans Bay early Wednesday morning as the blaze continues to spread a giraffe standing on top of a dirt field: A kangaroo can be seen moving away from nearby bushfires at a residential property near Nowra on the NSW South Coast © Provided by Daily Mail A kangaroo can be seen moving away from nearby bushfires at a residential property near Nowra on the NSW South Coast

A 70-year-old man was found dead outside a home at Yatte Yattah, west of Lake Conjola, on Tuesday night, while another man's body was found in a burnt vehicle on a road off the Princes Highway at Yatte Yattah Wednesday morning.

The body of a man was found in a vehicle on Wandra Road at Sussex Inlet about 11.30am Wednesday but is yet to be formally identified, while a seventh body was found outside a home Coolagolite, about 10km east of Cobargo, on Wednesday. 

Beloved great-grandfather Mick Roberts, 67, from Buchan, in East Gippsland, was found dead at his home on Wednesday morning. 

'Today we have the three deaths. The police have confirmed at Yatte Yattah, a body found in a vehicle there, which is near Lake Conjola,' NSW Police Force Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys told media on Wednesday afternoon.

'One at Sussex Inlet, a body in a vehicle. And ambulance officers have told us about a body that they have located as well deceased.' 

'In terms of the situation down on the South Coast, we have three emergency operation centres operating locally up and down the coast that are dealing with any amount of local issues and doing their best to solve those problems for people down there.

a fire burning in a dark room: A home lost to a bushfire on Hassall Road in Buxton as the Green Wattle Creek Fire  on December 19

A home lost to a bushfire on Hassall Road in Buxton as the Green Wattle Creek Fire  on December 19
© Provided by Daily Mail

'There is no magic wand to wave across this and fix it in a short amount of time.'

Meanwhile, a 72-year-old man is unaccounted for at Belowra, 50km north-west of Cobargo.

Commissioner Fitzsimmons said the death toll is expected to climb as well, as the RFS analyse the extent of the damage on the South Coast.

'So we know that the damage that's been occasioned right throughout the south-east corner of New South Wales is a heavy toll. And more importantly we're seeing unfortunately the tragedy of lives lost as well,' he said on Wednesday afternoon. 

'As the Premier quite rightly indicated, we need to prepare ourselves for that number to climb with information coming out this afternoon.' 

a man riding a skateboard up the side of a road: Residents of Cobargo, NSW, inspect the damage the fire left after it ripped through the town on Tuesday © Provided by Daily Mail Residents of Cobargo, NSW, inspect the damage the fire left after it ripped through the town on Tuesday a horse standing on top of a dirt field: A horse escaped from the nearby bushfires at a residential property near Nowra as bushfires ravage the area on Tuesday © Provided by Daily Mail A horse escaped from the nearby bushfires at a residential property near Nowra as bushfires ravage the area on Tuesday

a close up of an old building: Three people are confirmed dead and there are concerns for five people who are missing after fires left scenes like the one in Cobargo across the state

Three people are confirmed dead and there are concerns for five people who are missing after fires left scenes like the one in Cobargo across the state
© Provided by Daily Mail

At Microsoft News Australia we've partnered with the giving platform Benevity to raise funds for Australian Red Cross, St Vincent De Paul Society and The Salvation Army; these organisations are helping communities across the country devastated by bushfires. You can help these organisations by donating here and for the latest news and RFS links visit Bushfire emergency.

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