Man burned, four fireys injured in overnight bushfire battle
A man suffered serious burns, four firefighters were injured but no homes destroyed after intense firestorms ripped through the Snowy Mountains and Southern Highlands late yesterday.
Authorities initially feared more homes would be lost to the state's ongoing bushfire crisis that has already claimed at least 2000 properties.
More than 3500 firefighters were deployed throughout Friday night, battling a strong wind change that brought 90km/h gusts to dozens of dangerous fire grounds.
Three bushfires burning in the south on Friday evening merged to create a massive blaze in the Snowy Mountains region after being fanned by strong winds.
The 233,000-hectare Green Valley fire merged with the nearby East Ournie Creek blaze and the huge 312,000 hectare-Dunns Road fire, which were all at emergency level at one point on Friday night.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said a man was seriously injured last night while defending his property from a bushfire near Tumbarumba, southwest of Canberra.
"That person has suffered some very serious burns," he told reporters at the RFS headquarters on Saturday morning.
"They were treated on scene and they were extricated in one of the water bombing helicopters that was working down there."
The man was transferred to the Concord Hospital burns unit in Sydney and will undergo surgery on Saturday.
Four firefighters were also injured after they were "overrun by fire" while battling the Adaminaby blaze northwest of Cooma.
"They were treated by ambulance. They were triaged and treated last night and they have been released," Mr Fitzsimmons said.
Initial reports indicated no homes were destroyed overnight but some sheds have been damaged, Mr Fitzsimmons said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said authorities were "incredibly relieved" to have come through the night relatively unscathed.
"I strongly believe one of the reasons we came through it as well as we did was the preparation," she told reporters on Saturday morning.
"There is no doubt in my mind that that level of professionalism and preparedness allowed communities to survive another long and difficult night."
In the Southern Highlands, at least five buildings were razed by the fast-moving Morton fire.
In the evening, water bombing aircraft buzzed over the small town of Penrose, which borders the Wingello State Forest, making the most of the quickly fading light and dropping megalitres of water every minute.
By 6.30pm there were six buildings destroyed at the Sunnataram Forest Monastery, including a shed and multiple cabins.
With aircraft unable to fly during darkness, firefighters were stationed near Bundanoon, expecting thesoutherly wind change to push the blaze towards town.
Thousands of firefighters, including former PM Tony Abbott, who was on duty in Adaminaby, were fighting blazes in the alpine regions, Southern Highlands and the south coast.
As of Friday evening the destructive fire season had claimed 1995 homes and 5.2 million hectares of land across NSW.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Australian military was on standby to help firefighters and emergency agencies in the wake of last night's southerly change.
"I've given them very clear instructions that they are to stand ready to move and support immediately," he said. "We must prepare for today."
Before heading out, Mr Abbott said he hoped the predicted conditions would not eventuate.
"I'm one of 70,000 RFS volunteers - let's hope all of us stay safe and do good work," he said.
The RFS warned that coastal towns including Eden, Batemans Bay and Nowra could again be under threat.
"We want people out (and) into safer places," RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
In Victoria, evacuation orders were issued in alpine areas.
Also yesterday, a new fire broke out in the Blue Mountains but did not threaten homes. Coonabarabran was put on alert when a 1000ha blaze, believed to have been sparked by lightning, briefly escalated out of control.