Dozens of fires are still burning across Victoria as navy ships prepare to offer relief to the stricken East Gippsland town of Mallacoota.
HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore are due to arrive in Mallacoota this morning, while more than 76,000ha of land has been burnt in the region’s devastating bushfires.
Forty-seven fires are still actively burning, with more than a thousand firefighters working day and night to contain the blazes.
Ten Watch and Act warnings in place — six in East Gippsland, two in Victoria’s northeast, and two in the alpine region.
A total of 325 fires started in the 24 hours prior to 2pm yesterday.
Extra firefighters were sent to Cann River overnight to support the community trapped by fire.
RELIEF FOR MALLACOOTA
Two navy ships, HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore, are due to arrive in Mallacoota today, and were spotted off the coast earlier this morning.
The ships are expected to deliver food, water, fuel and temporary shelters, and bring a medical team to residents stranded in the coastal town.
The ships are also expected to bring diesel to run generators, as many communities remain without power. They can also be used to evacuate people stranded by the fires.
HMAS Choules can also be used as a floating base for a fleet of Australian Defence Force helicopters, which is due to arrive into Sale any time.
HOMELESS MAN ARRESTED OVER JOHNSONVILLE FIRE
A 36-year-old homeless man has been arrested and charged after he allegedly started a small fire in Johnsonville last night.
The suspect was arrested around 6.45pm last night in the town, located 22km northeast of Lakes Entrance.
He has been charged with recklessly causing bush fire and drug-related offences, and will front Bairnsdale Magistrates’ Court this morning.
The township of Buchan which was ravaged by Monday’s bushfires is still isolated and without power.
Mike Cooper is one of the few residents who have access to a working mobile phone in Buchan.
The town has been without power or phone reception since Monday.
“Everyone from Buchan is stranded at the moment,” he said. “It is mayhem. Buchan is obliterated.”
Mr Cooper said “people are running out of supplies” in the town but there were incredible acts of kindness between the locals.
“The pub owner and his missus are feeding everyone even though they lost their own home,” he said.
“They will still soldiering on, managing to feed everyone.”
A Facebook page for locals to communicate information out to friends and family has been set up.
For some, it is the only way of telling their loved ones they are alive.
“The towers need to be up and going to people can communicate,” Mr Cooper said.
“I don’t know what Telstra is doing, they need a kick in the ass.
“People can’t communicate with each other and it is creating more panic.
Mr Cooper said the town was isolated due to the risk of falling trees on the only road in and out of the small township.
He said he was sleeping the side door of his truck at the footy oval.
“People are around, we are all banding together to help each other out,” he said.
“It is not good but everyone is in pretty good spirits, what can you do? When it was all on fire, it was pretty hectic.
“When you live in the bush, it is just what happens.”
‘FORGOTTEN’ TOWN NEAR LAKES ENTRANCE
Sandra Huggins from the Nowa Nowa general store said her small township had been forgotten about.
“No one remembers Nowa Nowa,” she said.
“We are in trouble. We’ve had no power, no reception, no radio, no newspapers since Monday.
“We have struggled. We are not feeling in the loop. We are the forgotten part of East Gippsland.”
The Nowa Nowa general store was trading in cash and was even operating on an honesty system for customers who were caught short.
They had purchased a generator to keep the store going.
Ms Higgins said they were preparing for a “ring of fire” which may engulf Nowa Nowa on Saturday.
She and her family were tonight deciding if they would stay or go.
The nearby town of Wairewa, which shares a postcode with Nowa Nowa, is reported to have lost at least 10 homes.
CONVOY FLEES CORRYONG
Hundreds of people who escaped Corryong last night are sheltering in relief centres in neighbouring towns today.
Fire crews last night led a convoy of 122 cars out of Corryong amid fears the town will again come under severe fire threat in the coming days.
The convoy reached a relief centre in Tallangatta by about 9pm, where families now face a nervous wait.
Many of those remaining in Corryong are sheltering in the town’s high school, while others including elderly residents are gathered in the hospital.
Emergency services are hoping to restore power to Corryong today; however, residents in the area have all been asked to leave in guarded convoys with grave fears the fire will join another currently burning in NSW and pose an even greater threat on Friday and Saturday.
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