Up To 35 Properties Lost In NSW South Coast Fires
A seaside town on NSW's far south coast has been left devastated after a fast-moving bushfire ripped through dozens of homes and businesses.
It's feared up to 35 properties, including a popular caravan park, in Tathra east of Bega were destroyed in the fast-moving blaze that broke out on Sunday.
The fire, fanned by very strong winds and high temperatures in the state's east, burned through several kilometres of bushland and crossed a river before it reached the picturesque township.
While firefighters and residents have saved many homes in #Tathra, a number have been destroyed. The exact number won't be known for some time when Building Impact Assessment teams can get into the area. The fire has burnt right to the coast under strong winds. #nswrfs #nswfires pic.twitter.com/CARce7Ok2m— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) March 18, 2018
The NSW Rural Fire Service says the 1000-hectare blaze is still out of control.
However, the threat level was downgraded late Sunday night after a southerly wind change helped ease hot conditions.
No-one has been reported missing so far. But residents have been traumatised by the speed of the flames which took barely half an hour to cross the Bega River and hit the Tathra area.
"It's horrible but it could have been a lot, lot worse," one resident told Nine Network on Monday.
Bega Valley mayor Kristy McBain said about 35 properties had been damaged or destroyed and the town's roads, water system and sewage treatment plant were also damaged.
Communication were affected after a mobile phone tower collapsed, making it difficult to determine how many people remained in the town.
"There are no reports of any loss of life, so it will be very much about trying to track these people down," Ms McBain told AAP.
Hundreds of residents and tourists fled to evacuation centres in Bega and Bermagui, after access to Tathra cut off, to spend the night waiting for news.
Assessment teams are due to arrive in the area on early Monday to inspect properties and confirm the damage.
Tathra Beach Motor Village said it had experienced "significant" damage and would be closed until further notice.
The blaze tore through its front office and reception area but management wasn't able to confirm what other parts had been affected.
"This is a very dire and devastating situation for all involved," a post on the park's Facebook page said.
Tathra Public School, Bega High School, Tanja Public School and Bournda Environmental Education Centre will all be closed on Monday.
It's unclear if any have been damaged or destroyed.
The Insurance Council of Australia has declared the fire "catastrophe", meaning claims by those affected by the blaze will be given priority.
However, the ICA said it's too early to determine the extent of buildings lost or estimate the financial toll.
Temperatures are expected to reach 30C in the Bega region on Tuesday, with light easterly winds in the afternoon.