The decade closed in an inferno in Australia with holidaymakers huddled on the beaches, whole towns devoured, dozens of homes destroyed and at least two lives lost on the deadliest day of the worst bushfire season on record.

As more than 100 fires burnt across NSW. In Victoria, 20 major fires continue to burn, four people are missing and thousands of homes have lost power as the Defence Force moves in to help evacuate people.

Australian bushfires still raging. Photo / Supplied
Australian bushfires still raging. Photo / Supplied

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons confirmed three people have died in the wake of devastating fires on the South Coast.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, Fitzsimmons said a fourth individual is still unaccounted for.


"We have confirmed overnight that we've identified three people having lost their lives as a result of these fires and another person we still have grave concerns for and limited access to the remote area to try to identify and confirm one way or the other the status of that person," he said.

"We also have a very real challenge with a couple of isolated communities where we have reports of injuries and burn injuries to members of the public.

"We haven't been able to get access via roads or via aircraft. It's been…too dangerous and we simply can't access, nor can the people in these areas get out. We've had some limited conversations with the individuals and first aid, local first aid is being applied but it is a priority for us today, with the ambulance and the relevant authorities, to try to get medical attention to those people as soon as possible."

Police confirmed a father and son died trying to defend their home on new Year's Eve from the devastating Cobargo fire that almost completely destroyed the historic NSW village. Another man was reported missing from Belowra, west of Narooma.

Authorities say another four people are missing in Victoria and the total death toll now stands at 12.

Meanwhile, a European satellite image taken late yesterday has revealed the extent of the devastation in the Bateman Bay area on the NSW South Coast.

The photo shows a heavy blanket of thick, grey smoke smothering the region, demonstrating the shocking scale of the fire disaster seen from space.

Batemans Bay turned a horrific blood red colour as fire devastated the region yesterday. People were forced to flee the the beach, with thousands of people trapped by the blaze.

Surrounded by smoke and red skies, a man has posted video from a boat off the coast of Mallacoota. Video / Cubin' / Facebook

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison paid tribute to volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul, 28, who was killed when the Rural Fire Service truck he was in was hit by ferocious winds outside of Albury in the south of NSW.

Out-of-control fires are blazing in three states, with conditions set to worsen in some regions.

Multiple emergency warnings remain in place across East Gippsland, Victoria, where fires have ripped through more than 230,000 hectares and dozens of homes are expected to be destroyed.

Australian Defence Force Black Hawk helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and naval vessels, including the HMAS Choules and the MV Sycamore, have been deployed, along with military personnel.

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Warning levels for a string of bushfires burning on the South Australian mainland have all been reduced but concerns remain for six blazes, including those burning on Kangaroo Island and near Whyalla.

In southern Western Australia, a large bushfire continues to rage in the Stirling Range National Park, as more than 40 bushfires burn across the state.

One home has been destroyed in Tasmania, where more than 30 bushfires continue to burn, six of concern.

Australia's catastrophic 2019 bushfire season at a glance


• 11 lives lost, three in the past 48 hours

• One person missing

• 112 bushfires burning

A New South Wales Police officer prepares to flee his roadblock on the Princes Highway near the town of Sussex on New Year's Eve. Photo / Getty Images
A New South Wales Police officer prepares to flee his roadblock on the Princes Highway near the town of Sussex on New Year's Eve. Photo / Getty Images

• 3.6 million hectares burned, greater than the size of Belgium

• 911 homes confirmed destroyed


• Four people missing

• 20 bushfires of significance burning

Image from Mallacoota bushfires. Photo / Supplied
Image from Mallacoota bushfires. Photo / Supplied

• 400,000 hectares burned

• 43 structures confirmed destroyed but this number is expected rise significantly


• Two lives lost

• More than 30 bushfires burning, six of significance

• 60,000 hectares burned

• More 90 homes confirmed destroyed


• 27 bushfires burning, none threatening property

• More than 250,000 hectares burned

• 38 homes confirmed destroyed


• More than 40 bushfires burning, one of significance

• 1.2 million hectares burned

• One home confirmed destroyed


• More than 30 bushfires burning, six of significance

• 8,000 hectares burned

• One home confirmed destroyed

Military to help Victorian fire effort

Military personnel are expected to hit the ground in Victoria's east today after fires burned through 400,000 hectares.

Defence force aircraft including Black Hawk helicopters are tipped to land on Wednesday with other aircraft and naval vessels due in the coming days.

The aircraft are expected to help move fire crews, supplies and help with evacuations as needed.

Naval vessels including the HMAS Choules left Sydney bound for the East Gippsland coast on Tuesday evening and training vessel MV Sycamore has also been deployed.

Missing four Victorians are not firefighters

More than 20 bushfires are now burning across Victoria, with flames ripping through more than 400,000 hectares in East Gippsland.

Requests for 70 firefighters have also been made to Canada and the United States.

Firefighters are struggling to contain wildfires in Victoria. Photo / Supplied
Firefighters are struggling to contain wildfires in Victoria. Photo / Supplied

Four people remain missing in the fires, with Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews earlier confirming they are not firefighters.

"We do have very real fears for their safety," Mr Andrews told reporters.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said up to 40 military personnel will help assess the fire damage from Wednesday.