Australia bushfires: Kiwi determined to stay put as fire closes in

Amid a state-wide bushfire emergency in New South Wales, one New Zealander is choosing to stay, defend and fight if the flames roll in.

Joe Hooper lives in Bergalia with his wife, after having previously lived in Auckland. While his wife followed advice to leave and seek refuge, Joe chose to stay.

"I've taken the option and the risk and if it pays off, it pays off. And if it doesn't, well, yeah," he said.

Hooper knows he's risking his life by remaining in the area, but he's prepared to stay so he can save his livelihood.

He said he's been preparing for three weeks by watering grass and walls and cutting down shrubs. He also has a fire pump and a generator.

"The fire pump has got a 75 metre hose on it so I can get all the way around the house. And on the back deck, I've set up a sprinkler that doesn't need attention - it'll just constantly spray water."

And if it all "goes belly up",  Hooper said he's got a safe room.

"I've filled up with water in there so I can wet towels if the pump's not working," he said.

Ten minutes up the road is Moruya, where locals are camped at the side of the river ready to jump in.

"I've got my surfboard in the back of the car. If it gets real bad, I'm heading that way and I'll sit in the river," said Moruya resident David Hunter.

Some locals brought along their animals, too.

"Two cats, the dog, and the budgie in the front seat, and a few clothes," Broulee resident Margaret Eldridge said.

Firefighters in the area were seen pumping water into the blaze, but it kept on burning.

They'll now have additional help from the Australian Defence Force, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing on Saturday the deployment of 3000 additional troops, extra helicopters for evacuations and more firefighting planes.

"We have seen this disaster escalate to an entirely new level," Morrison said.

"This length of season is, of course, in many senses unprecedented, and the ferocity and absence of dousing rains that would normally bring a season like this under greater control is nowhere in sight."

In Victoria, the first 58 people evacuated from Mallacoota arrived in Western Point on Wednesday morning.

Naval liaison officer Karl Brinckmann said they were fortunate to take the first 58, and even rescued some dogs and cats, too.

Some children, elderly and disabled residents have been airlifted out of Mallacoota and evacuated to an Air Force base.

There is a total fire ban across northern and eastern Victoria, and authorities have declared a state of disaster. About 100,000 people were evacuated from the area ahead of poor weather conditions.

But for some it's too late, with more roads closed and residents of alpine regions near the New South Wales border being told it is too dangerous to try and leave. There is the possibility of fires moving across the state lines.

The thick smoke is helping firefighters, but forecasted wind gusts of up to 80 km/h could push that smoke away and expose the fires to the sun.

Rain isn't expected in the area for weeks, or possibly months.

Further south in Kangaroo Island, residents described the fire as "all hell breaking loose", as it threatened to completely engulf the island.

Two people died and thousands have been evacuated from the popular tourist spot.

"Our hearts go out to the family of those people who have been affected," said South Australia premier Steven Marshall.

Light rain offered some small relief in the morning, but authorities are warning the fires are far from over.

"You have to remember that the conditions and severity and size of the fire mean that it's virtually unstoppable at this time," Country Fire Service chief Mark Jones said.

About 60,000 kangaroos and 50,000 koalas live on Kangaroo Island. One third of the island is on protected land and is home to Flinders Chase National Park, which is a haven for endangered species.

Three thousand emergency service personnel have been deployed in New South Wales, where 137 fires are burning. Another 50 fires are burning in Victoria.