Australia bushfires live: NSW and Victoria survey damage as fires merge to form new ‘megablaze’ – latest updates

Firefighters and property owner among those injured as megablaze burns on both sides of the Murray River in the Snowy Mountains and upper Murray region

12.37am GMT

Anthony Albanese spoke to reporters in Sydney a short time ago about his proposal to suspend the ordinary business of parliament on 4 February, the first sitting day of the year, for a motion of condolence for those killed in the summer bushfire crisis.

I have not as yet received a response from the Prime Minister, I would expect that that would be forthcoming. This was put forward asa constructive suggestion, so that preparations can be made.

…it just seems to me, and in the debate we have had in the shadow cabinet in Adelaide on Thursday, that it is not really tenable to do anything else on the first day back. Of course prior to Parliament sitting there will be the usual church service that takes place in the morning as well and that will have a particular sombre note to it.

12.24am GMT

This is Calla Wahlquist, taking over from environment reporter Lisa Cox, who was keeping you informed this morning.

I’ll bring you the comments from opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s press conference shortly.

12.18am GMT

So, we now have two megablazes burning this fire season: the Gospers Mountain megablaze in the Blue Mountains and Wollemi national park, which is currently estimated to be 512,000ha in size; and the Dunns Road/Green Valley/Corryong fire, which joined overnight and is burning on both sides of the Murray River in the Snowy Mountains and upper Murray region.

12.00am GMT

AAP has this report out of Queensland today. The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has urged Donald Trump to reconsider US travel warnings placed on Australia:

The US state department last week put out a new warning for Americans to consider postponing their travel to Australia as disastrous bushfires ravage the country.

But the premier has passionately pleaded with the US leader to reconsider the warning, which could be damaging to the tourism industry at a delicate time.

11.38pm GMT

More from that press conference: Victoria’s emergency services say they are trying to clarify what types of structures were destroyed overnight.

They believe one is a home and the other a shed but crews will be sent to the locations to confirm that.

Crews from @FFMVic are leaving the Ovens Incident Control Centre now to assess the damage done by bushfires in the alpine region overnight. Most emergency warnings in the area have been downgraded @SBSNews

11.29pm GMT

Last night thousands turned out in Sydney and Melbourne calling for more action on climate change and the sacking of Scott Morrison, with more than 10,000 gathering at Sydney’s Town Hall.

11.23pm GMT

Victoria’s emergency management commissioner, Andrew Crisp, says there are no total fire bans in the state today but fire danger remains very high in the north and north-east.

“It is a tale of two states at the moment, in terms of temperature and conditions. You get north of that divide and we have temperatures 30 plus, south of the divide is somewhat cooler and somewhat milder,” he says.

11.18pm GMT

More from that press conference:

Victoria’s emergency services minister, Lisa Neville, says there have been mixed conditions in other parts of the state.

11.09pm GMT

Victoria’s emergency services minister, Lisa Neville, has been speaking.

She says Friday night’s “fast moving, scary grassfire” in Wodonga was indicative of the kinds of emergencies communities are facing.

10.52pm GMT

The Sydney Opera House and Live Nation have also announced a comedy gala to raise funds for bushfire recovery.

The event will be on March 16 on the Opera House Steps and forecourt and will feature artists and comedians including Arj Barker, Carl Barron, Urzila Carlson, Joel Creasey, Kitty Flanagan, Becky Lucas, Tim Minchin, Julia Morris, Harry Shearer and more to be announced.

10.42pm GMT

The sails of the Sydney Opera House will be lit up tonight to show support for bushfire-affected communities and firefighters around the country.

Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM said: “We are lighting the Opera House sails to show our collective support for everyone affected by these devastating fires and to express our deepest gratitude to the emergency services and volunteers for their incredible efforts and courage. As difficult circumstances continue, we want to send a message of hope and strength to the people of Australia.”

10.35pm GMT

Liberal National MP Keith Pitt, the member for the Queensland electorate of Hinkler, has been speaking on the ABC.

He’s asked whether he thinks community sentiment about the government’s climate policies and how we deal with bushfire is changing.

10.10pm GMT

The Blue Mountains this morning, where there is a mix of heavy smoke and fog:

Not sure the Three Sisters are going to put in an appearance today…

9.58pm GMT

If you are after some longer reading on the bushfire crisis, there is plenty in Guardian Australia today.

James Bradley has written this piece about the horror day in NSW on New Year’s eve and how it could come to be seen as the “day everything changed” for climate politics in Australia.

9.41pm GMT

And this is the new watch and act alert for a fire near Port Stephens.

Watch and Act: Melaleuca Av, One Mile (Port Stephens) A bush fire is burning in bushland north of One Mile Beach. The fire is being pushed in a northerly direction under southerly winds. #NSWRFS #nswfires

9.30pm GMT

Here is a summary of what the NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had to say about the impact of those conditions on Friday and what is expected in the days ahead:

9.11pm GMT

More from that press conference:

The NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says early reports today suggest no homes were destroyed overnight “but we have got reports of some outbuildings and some sheds that were damaged or consumed by the fire”.

9.06pm GMT

The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is speaking.

She says a person has been injured overnight while defending their property and was taken to Concord Hospital.

8.50pm GMT

We are expecting an update within the next hour from the NSW RFS and the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

In the meantime, the RFS has published its latest data on properties damaged and destroyed this season, up until January 10. It says these figures will increase.

Building Impact Assessment continue assessing the damage to properties in fire affected areas. This season 2,079 homes destroyed, more than 24,000 buildings saved. 1,163 homes lost since 1 Jan. Figure likely to increase as teams work through the area. #nswrfs #nswfires

8.39pm GMT

Good morning and welcome to today’s coverage of the ongoing bushfire crisis.

Firefighters in NSW and Victoria faced a difficult night after a southerly change brought gusty winds through both states.

Continue reading…

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