Australia bushfires as it happened: Nearly 140 blazes still burning in NSW

The bushfire crisis is far from over in Australia with firefighters still grappling to contain out of control blazes. 

Showers have fallen on bushfire-ravaged New South Wales bringing some respite, but conditions are expected to worsen later in the week.

What you need to know:

  • The national death toll this fire season stands at 24
  • At 10:30pm Sunday, there were still 139 fires burning in NSW, the state's Rural Fire Service (RFS) said, with 69 yet to be contained.
  • More than 5.25 million hectares (13 million acres) has burned this fire season
  • In NSW alone, the fires have destroyed nearly 1500 homes.

These live updates have now ended.

3:29pm - Australian broacaster 9 News is reporting that 100,000 livestock are believed to have been killed in the bushfires.

2:57pm - Smoke from Victoria's bushfires is likely to affect Melbourne for some days, 7 News reports.

2:11pm - It remains unclear exactly how many koalas have been lost in the devastating fires.

It's feared a total of about 500 million animals have perished.

"Until people can actually get onto the firegrounds, knowing how many [koalas] we've lost is up in the air," said Kate Welz of Kangaroo Island's Wildlife Network.

"We know there are going to be substantial losses," she told Channel 7's Sunrise programme.

2:01pm - It's still an emergency situation in Victoria's bushfire-ravaged east Gippsland.

ABC Australia reports that authorities are bracing for emergency-level bushfires to flare up again from Thursday.

"It will warm up again and they will take off," Victoria Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said.

1:54pm - "Watch and act" alerts have been issued for the Victorian towns of Upper Murray, Walwa and Corryong.

1:47pm - Australia's Defence Force says it evacuated more than 170 people from the Victorian town of Mallacoota by aircraft on Sunday.

"Flying operations are continuing until all who wish to evacuate have been transported," Defence Australia said on Twitter.

1:41pm - The bushfire disaster has sparked several high-profile fundraising efforts from throughout the world with movie stars, sports players and singers among those opening their wallets.

NSW Rural Fire Chief Shane Fitzsimmons says he's blown away by the response.

"The generosity and the care is extending globally and people want to reach out," he told reporters. "People want to support those who have been devastated [and] they want to support the volunteers out there on the front line."

1:32pm - Residents were told on Sunday night that an inferno in the Victorian town of Corryong could merge with blazes on the NSW border forming a "mega fire", ABC Australia reported.

1:19pm - The Sydney Thunder Big Bash cricket side has removed all pyrotechnics from its home games for the remainder of the season due to the bushfires.

"Our thoughts remain with the heroes fighting the bushfires and all the communities affected," the club said on Twitter.

1:13pm - A race meeting due to take place in the Victoria town of Albury has been called off.

Officials say it's due to smoke haze from the bushfires being at unacceptable levels.

12:48pm - Air quality in Melbourne has been result "very poor" on Monday as result of the fires, The Age reports.

12:46pm - Former Wallabies rugby captain James Horwill is urging people to donate to the bushfire cause.

12:42pm - NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says some people have been allowed to return home.

She told reporters however the RFS hasn't able to access all areas where properties have been lost.

"Therefore, we do not have an overall number [of properties lost] at this stage."

12:27pm - Aucklanders and Northlanders should have much clearer skies on Monday with the smoke and dust from the bushfires not expected to stick about. 

MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris told Newshub that visibility should improve.

12:03pm - Back home, New Zealanders are being asked to donate things which could help animals affected by the bushfires. 

Mobile Vets Hamilton owner Victoria Hicks is one of many taking donations, and told Newshub there's lots people can give, such as cat and dog carry cages.

12:00pm - NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the most is being made of the cooler conditions.

"This morning [Monday] is all about recovery," she told reporters. "It's all about making sure that people who have been displaced have somewhere safe, and it's also making sure that we have resources to start building up that presence on the ground to clean up the roads [and] clean up where the rubble exists."

11:53am - Australia's capital Canberra on Monday is covered in smoke from the NSW fires, ABC Australia reports.

11:43am - NSW Rural Fire chief Shane Fitzsimmons says so-far, 4.9 million hectares has been burnt-out in the state.

"Given the activity we've got still, we'd expect that number to grow," he told reporters. 

"Unfortunately, I don't think it's going to be too long before we're up over 5 million hectares."

11:41am - An LA model has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Australian bushfires by sending naked photographs to her followers. 

Kaylen Ward told her followers on Twitter on Saturday that she would send nudes to anyone who donated NZ$15 or more to fundraisers for the Australia wildfires.

Read more here.

11:39am - A startling photo of Australia's devastating bushfires shows the flames approaching a town in Victoria "like lava".

Melissa Ericksen, a resident of Euroa, snapped the picture on Balmattum Hill after watching the fires develop on Saturday.

 The glow from a fire at Balmattum Hill Bushland Reserve near Euroa on Saturday night, January 4. Picture: Melissa Ericksen
Photo credit: Facebook/Melissa Ericksen

11:36am - Firefighters from Tasmania will return to NSW on Monday to help tackle the blazes, the state's Labor Senator Helen Polley says.

11:23am - Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reiterated they will support Australia wherever they can.

"Our two countries are close allies, and so many Canadians have connections in Australia," he said on Twitter.

"The bushfires have consumed thousands of homes, destroyed people's livelihoods, and killed countless animals.

"We're going to help our friends get through this."

11:07am - The US on Monday (local time) is sending 20 experienced firefighters from California to help tackle the blazes, AP reports.

"Our focus remains on helping the people of Australia and keeping people safe in these unprecedented conditons," said Department of the Interior's Office of Wildland Fire director Craig Leff.

11:01am - NSW Rural Fire chief Shane Fitzsimmons says 54 fires are still uncontained.

"The good news is all fires are now back at the advice alert level," he told reporters. "The fire behaviour is a lot less."

Crews are working on establishing containment lines before temperatures start climbing again on Friday.

10:57am - Three fires are threatening to merge on the border of Victoria and NSW on Monday, which could form a "mega blaze", Channel 9's Today show reports.

10:53am - According to Channel 9's Today show, "scores of properties" have been lost overnight.

10:45am - Two people have been confirmed missing in NSW, the state's premier Gladys Berejiklian says.

"I hope that ends in good news but currently in remote parts of far New South Wales there are two people unaccounted for," she told reporters on Monday morning.

10:22am - Canada Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne says they are prepared to provide further assistance to Australia.

Almost 100 Canadian fire management crews have been deployed to Australia since December 3, with more on the way.

"Canada is deeply saddened by the mounting deaths and destruction caused by the devastating wildfires," the minister said in a statement. 

"I have communicated with my Australian counterpart to reiterate that we are prepared to provide further assistance as necessary.

"When wildfires spread through Canadian communities, Australia answered our call for help. We are proud to do the same."

10:07am - Kiwi driver Scott McLaughlin is auctioning off his 2017 race helmet to raise money for the Australian Red Cross and WIRES.

McLaughlin set the auction live on Sunday night, and it's already reached $45,100.

"The amount this gets sold for I will personally match it with a donation myself," he said on Facebook.

9:57am - Victoria's Country Fire Authority has issued "watch and act" alerts for the Abbeyard, Mt Buffalo and Wongungara regions.

"A south westerly wind change has move through the fire ground," the authority said on Twitter.

"The fires remain active and continue to be actively monitored."

9:45am - Cooler weather with showers is bringing some relief to firefighters on Australia's south-eastern coast - before the heat returns later this week.

In NSW, 136 fires are still burning, and 31 in Victoria.

Residents in the NSW town of Eden are taking to the sea to avoid the border fire. 

9:40am - A NSW man has been charged for allegedly sparking a fire with his power tools in Sydney's Marsden Park on Sunday.

 "Firefighters were able to contain the blaze without loss of property or injury," NSW Police said in a statement.

"Following inquiries, a 54-year-old man was spoken to about his use of a grinder and welder outside despite a total fire ban being in place.

"That man has now been issued with a future court attendance notice for failing to comply with a total fire ban order."

9:35am - Emergency warnings are in place for Wangarabell, Wingan River and Wroxam - on Victoria's border with NSW.

"It is too late to leave," VicEmergency said on Twitter. "Leaving now would be deadly."

9:32am - According to 7 News, showers are also expected to provide some relief to Victoria on Monday.

9:22am - A grass fire at Sydney's Olympic Park overnight is being investigated by police.

Emergency services were called to the scene about 11:30pm on Sunday (local time) and found an area near a car park well ablaze, a NSW Police statement said.

The fire was extinguished by a NSW Fire and Rescue crew, the statement said.

"Some fireworks were found at the scene and have been taken for forensic examination.

"The exact cause of the blaze is still to be determined."

9:20am - According to The Age, four people remain unaccounted for in Victoria.

9:12am - Welcome rain is falling on parts of Australia as firefighters try to build containment lines to stop the bushfires. 

The southern coast of New South Wales is experiencing drizzle, but it won't be long lived with conditions expected to worsen again this week.

9:10am - Victoria's Bureau of Meteorology says winds are transporting smoke across Melbourne from Gippsland and Bass Strait.

Those conditions are likely to persist throughout Monday.

"In Melbourne we're expecting it to be similar to the hazy conditions we saw on Friday and it could be even worse," said Environmental Protection Authority chief environmental scientist Dr Andrea Hinwood.

"People in fire-impacted areas have been dealing with the smoke for a number of days now and that's going to continue, unfortunately," Dr Hinwood told The Age.

9:05am - Opposition leader Anthony Albanese wrote on Twitter that the bushfire crisis is "unprecedented".

"All of us can be so proud of Australians leading the response, keeping us safe."

9:00am - In Victoria, there are still 31 fires active and more than 1.1 million hectares have been burned.

"Over 100 firefighters from all agencies are still working on these fires," VicEmergency said on Twitter.

8:45am - Rain is falling in the town of Mogo on NSW's South Coast, Channel 9's Today show reports.

8:28am - As of 6am (local time), there were 136 fires burning in NSW, 69 of which were uncontained.

"Today [Monday] crews will focus on containment of these larges fires, working with heavy plant and aviation assets," the RFS said on Twitter.

8:32am - The NSW Government will make changes to how fires are managed and how hazards are reduced once the crisis is over, according to Matt Kean, the state's environment minister.

"Climate change is increasing the risk and we need to respond to that," he said, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.

"We need to use every tool available to avoid this sort of fire season becoming the new normal."

8:28am - NZ Air Force personnel are leaving their families and holidays to help battle the Australian wildfires. 

They will be arriving in Adelaide on Monday with three NH90 helicopters.

Two army combat engineer sections, who are also trained firefighters, will go over.

8:16am - A woman in the NSW South Coast town of Dalmeny who has 17 people staying with her is worried about the town being cut off to food supplies.

Alice Patten has had family staying with her since New Year's Eve when the bushfires starting raging out of control.

"I've got 17 people at home - a loaf of bread don't bounce," she told ABC Australia.

7:59am - Bushfire-related fundraising run by an Australian comedian has surpassed $30 million.

Celeste Barber's campaign on Facebook is aiming to raise money for the NSW Fire Service.

 7:56am - French President Emmanuel Macron says he has spoken with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to offer aid in dealing with devastating bushfires.

Macron said he spoke with Morrison on Sunday morning (local time).

Authorities in Australia are assessing the damage from the most recent fires as cooler conditions provided a temporary respite from blazes that have ravaged parts of the nation for weeks.

Reuters

7:45am - The NSW coastal town of Eden has been told to evacuate as flames tear through.

Joy Robin, an Eden resident and the mother-in-law of comedian Celeste Barber, believes they've been abandoned by the Government.

"The fire is Australia's war at the moment," she told media.

"They've [the Government] left us high and dry so many times.

"We've been abandoned."

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