Welcome rain, a political ad and an "arrogant" PM: The bushfire stories we woke up to today.

Written with AAP –

Here are the latest updates from the NSW, VIC and SA bushfires. For further information on how you can help those affected by the bushfires, read our post here.

Border fire “blows up” after overnight wind change.

Rural communities in southern NSW are bracing as a bushfire spreads rapidly from the Victorian border.

NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman Greg Potts says the border fire, which is burning at an emergency level, is moving towards the small communities of Burragate and Towamba. The fire was spreading quickly and “blew up” on Saturday night when a southerly wind change swept through NSW, Mr Potts said.

“This morning Towamba and Burragate are likely to be impacted by the border fire,” Mr Potts said on Sunday outside the Bega Valley RFS headquarters.

“We saw extraordinary fire behaviour last night. The border fire blew up and there were extraordinary changes where the sky went red.

“The fire basically created its own weather and ran at an extraordinary speed from the NSW border.”


Mr Potts said there was “no margin for safety” as crews battled the blaze.

“At one stage the border fire was moving at 6 km/h. The lack of visibility is making aerial reconnaissance impossible.”

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said “lots of people” had evacuated the town of Eden as the fire approached on Saturday night.

“It’s moving a bit further north and towards rural and isolated property just to the west of Eden,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“It’s still pretty active down there, and there is lots of attention from local firefighters.”

Authorities play catch-up on the prime minister’s promise of military support.

The promise of military support for Australia’s ongoing bushfire crisis came as a shock to some authorities who have voiced their disappointment in the federal government’s lack of communication.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons welcomed news from Prime Minister Scott Morrison of up to 3000 army reservists, but added he only found out through media reports.

Speaking to Nine’s The Today Show on Sunday, Mr Fitzsimmons said: “It was disappointing and some surprise to hear about these things through public announcements.”

You can watch NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons on The Today Show in the video below, post continues after video.

Video via Nine

The Today Show co-host Karl Stefanovic labelled the prime minister’s lack of communication prior to announcing the aid “arrogant”.

“I can’t fathom how… the prime minister of this country doesn’t let the man who is running this bushfire emergency know that he’s sending 3,000 on the ground,” he said.

“He’s arrogant enough to go to air without [that]… it is beyond.”

Mr Fitzsimmons has since spoken with the prime minister’s office. “They apologised that in hindsight they could have done better with communicating that.”

However, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was told of the prime minister’s announcement before it was made. A spokesman for Mr Morrison said state leaders were informed ahead of the commitment being made public.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison cops criticism over Liberal Party Twitter bushfires ‘ad’.

The prime minister has defended a video posted on the Liberal Party’s twitter account detailing the government’s bushfire response, after it was labelled “shameless” and a breach of political advertising rules.

The much-criticised video, authorised by Mr Morrison and posted on Saturday, described the government’s deployment of reservists.

It includes details of defence ships and aircraft that have been deployed along with funding allocated for more firefighting craft, volunteer firefighters and those who lost homes or incomes.


The Liberal Party also posted details of the government response on its social media channels.

The Australia Defence Association, a non-partisan public-interest watchdog, accused the government of breaching rules around political advertising.

“Party-political advertising milking ADF support to civil agencies fighting bushfires is a clear breach of the (reciprocal) non-partisanship convention applying to both the ADF & Ministers/MPs,” the association tweeted.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd also expressed outrage.

“On a day we have catastrophic fire conditions, in the midst of a genuine national crisis, Morrison, the marketing guy, does what? He releases a Liberal Party ad! He is no longer fit to hold the high office of prime minister,” Mr Rudd tweeted.

Mr Morrison took to Twitter to defend the video late on Saturday, saying it was a legal requirement in Australia to include an authorisation on all video messages used by MPs on social media.

“The video message simply communicates the Government’s policy decisions and the actions the Government is undertaking to the public,” he posted.

“The same practice is rightly employed by the Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party. This is required and standard practice in Australia.”

Navy arrives on the NSW South Coast to assist with bushfire efforts.


Australia’s largest navy ship, HMAS Adelaide, has arrived offshore from Eden on the NSW far south coast to help with bushfire efforts.

The HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore were returning to Mallacoota where they had previously ferried evacuees from coastal Victoria, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds told ABC on Sunday.

“We are in discussions with the NSW and Victorian government on how best to utilise these vessels today and moving forward,” she said.

There were 400 troops in Adelaide, as well as 300 tonnes of emergency supplies and an on-board hospital, Senator Reynolds said. She repeated Saturday’s announcement that defence would be opening bases from Brisbane to Adelaide to help bushfire-affected Australians.

Senator Reynolds said states and territories still got the ultimate call on where and when defence assets were deployed.

“This is an unprecedented national disaster… we are ramping up even more assets,” she told ABC.

South Australian man charged with starting four fires.

A 79-year-old South Australian man has been charged with intentionally lighting four grass and scrub fires in the state’s southeast in recent days.

Police will allege the man lit fires on December 30 and January 2, and then two on Saturday, all in the Kingston area. He has been refused police bail and will appear in Mount Gambier Magistrates Court on Monday.

No property damage was caused by the fires, however, a house did come under threat during one on Saturday. Police said the charges did not relate to the large Keilira fire which was sparked in the southeast on January 30 with that blaze not considered suspicious.

Rain to ‘ease’ conditions in Victoria.

Steady rain over the next two days could help fire crews gain more control over massive blazes ravaging Victoria’s east and northeast.

Light mist fell on Sunday at some centres including Bairnsdale, on the western edge of the East Gippsland fire ground. More widespread cooler conditions are expected to bring respite to the affected areas, Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Keris Arndt says.

“The conditions are much cooler, moisture’s a lot higher than we’ve seen over previous days and the winds are also easing off a fair bit, especially through Gippsland today,” Mr Arndt told AAP on Sunday.


“Hopefully that gives the fire agencies a bit of a chance to have a go at the fires and try to get a bit more control in there.”

However, while rain may help dampen the fireground, it could also prove a “double-edged” sword for crews by making some areas more difficult to access, Mr Arndt said.

Four emergency warnings remain, with three in East Gippsland and one in northeast Victoria. Two evacuation orders are in force near Mt Buffalo and Mt Hotham in north-east Victoria. Rain is due to extend across the state, with light falls of up to 15mm forecast through Gippsland and the northeast ranges during the day. The sprinkling will cover firegrounds up near Mt Hotham as well as fires burning through most of East Gippsland.

A state of emergency remains in place for Victoria throughout next week.

Celeste Barber raises over $22 million for Aussie firefighters.

At the time of publishing, Aussie comedian Celeste Barber has raised over $22 million to fight the Australian bushfires.

That number is truly staggering, but even more staggering is how it continues to rise by thousands every time you refresh the page.

It’s been less than three days since the NSW-born entertainer shared a plea for help on Facebook on Friday, asking her global audience of millions to donate whatever they could to help the NSW Rural Fire Service fight the widespread bushfires that have been burning since November 2019.

Right now on Sunday, the fundraising goal is set to $25 million, but as Barber shared on her Instagram story on Sunday morning, the power of the people will only see it go upwards.

Want to help? You can donate to Celeste Barber’s bushfire fundraiser on Facebook here. You can also donate funds to the organisations below:

… And there’s more.

Mamamia Out Loud, our bi-weekly podcast, is coming to Melbourne for a live show, with 100 per cent of all ticket proceeds going to the Australian Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund.

It’s a brand new show, full of laughs and news and opinions and a few special surprises, with Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and Jessie Stephens, on February the 11th. You can buy tickets right now at See you there! 

Feature image: Getty.

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