NEWS
31/12/2019 12:54 PM AEDT | Updated 31/12/2019 1:16 PM AEDT

Mallacoota Bushfire: Thousands Of Residents Trapped On Beach As Fire Approaches

People are waiting on the beach ready to escape into the water.

Huffpost Australia
Mallacoota before and after

Thousands of people have evacuated onto the beach at Mallacoota, as bushfires rage across eastern Victoria.  

Pictures of the red apocalyptic sky and falling embers have shocked social media users, as a reported 4000 people continued to shelter on Mallacoota Beach on Tuesday, ready to escape into the water if the fire approached the town.  

Mallacoota is a small tourist coastal town in the East Gippsland region of Victoria and has a population of about 8000 people. 

B&B owner David Geoffrey told News Channel about the situation on Mallacoota Beach. 

“It was blowing out to a gale for a point and then, what I thought - remember it’s pitch black - and then the sky went red. We thought it was a fire front about to run over the top of us,” he said.  

“It’s the only thing to protect from radiant heat, they wanted us to get into the water get against that wall. It’s got oysters and stuff, not the greatest thing to do but it will save you from radiant heat, it’s a barrier. 

“So we were ready to jump in. And everyone was all along the edge, ready to go and of course when, you know, when that sky went red, it looked like what we’ve been looking at when we saw the fire coming.

Geoffrey added the group could hear gas cylinders exploding, “which means it’s people’s homes being destroyed.”

Around 100 fires are burning across Australia, with as many as 14 “emergency” warnings in place for Victoria while fires are also threatening homes and infrastructure in South Australia and Tasmania.

There were eight fires burning at emergency level in NSW on Tuesday, NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons said. 

The NSW volunteer firefighter who died in a “cyclonic wind” fire event on Monday has been named as 28-year-old newlywed Sam McPaul.  

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons described McPaul as “a much loved and respected local firefighter” who leaves behind a wife who is pregnant with their first child. 

“He leaves behind, tragically, a beautiful wife - Megan - who is pregnant with their first child, that’s due on 4 May,” Fitzsimmons told media at a conference on Tuesday.