Mallacoota residents have described a deafening silence that was only interrupted by sounds of people crying as the havoc wreaked on the town became visible.
Mallacoota residents have described a deafening silence that was only interrupted by sounds of people crying as the havoc wreaked on the town became visible.

Mallacoota residents petrified as fire ‘crept closer’

Up to 100 homes in Mallacoota are feared to have been lost as the small township comes to terms with the devastating bush fires.

Locals and holiday makers who flocked to the town's beach on Tuesday morning were picking up the pieces on New Year's Day.

Locals and tourists sought refuge on Mallacoota’s foreshore. Pictures: Trevor Jay
Locals and tourists sought refuge on Mallacoota’s foreshore. Pictures: Trevor Jay

Many local business owners who lost their homes bravely stayed open on Wednesday to continue to service the community and stranded tourists.

A community meeting was held on Wednesday night for those affected by the fires.

Destruction in Mallacoota. Picture: David Caird
Destruction in Mallacoota. Picture: David Caird

Hundreds of people crowded into the Mallacoota Town Hall for the meeting and were told it was unclear when the power would be back on and when the roads would be reopened.

"A lot of the locals are raw," holiday maker Cassandra Smith told the Herald Sun.

"It was apocalyptic here.

"The sun came up. Then it was like someone hit the dimmer switch.

"There was an eerie silence. People weren't screaming at all, they were crying."

Up to 100 homes in Mallacoota are believed to have been destroyed. Pictures: Trevor Jay
Up to 100 homes in Mallacoota are believed to have been destroyed. Pictures: Trevor Jay

Destroyed houses along Bastion Point Road and many surrounding streets were smouldering on Wednesday night.

Local police told the packed community meeting that the water was safe to drink again.

The town's caravan park has also put out generators for people who needed a warm shower

Extra paramedics have been flown in to Mallacoota and reinforcements for exhausted firefighters arrived.

A human chain of volunteers lined the wharf on Wednesday to transport bottles of drinking water which arrived by boats.

"The main problem is there is no central point for info, people don't know," Mrs Smith said.

"People thought the golf club went up, then they thought the school was up in flames.

"We could hear the gas bottles exploding.

"They were getting louder and louder as the fire crept closer and closer."

Residents have describing terrifying scenes in the town over the past two days. Pictures: Trevor Jay
Residents have describing terrifying scenes in the town over the past two days. Pictures: Trevor Jay

Wildlife in the area has been heavily affected by the blaze, with kangaroos spotted hopping across scorched land by Davis Creek.

Burnt out vehicles sat next to the ruins of houses in Stanley Avenue.

"The mood is very sombre now," Mrs Smith said.

"We were all thinking everybody is here but look at what the community has gone through.

"There's no music playing or people getting together for meals for end of year celebrations.

"The whole town is normally lit up and festive. People were just exhausted after what they went through."

The town is still on a watch and act footing.

Fourteen fire trucks will patrol Mallacoota tonight to keep an eye out for any falling embers that could start spot fires.

david.hurley@news.com.au

Hundreds gathered on the beach on New Year’s Eve. Pictures: Trevor Jay
Hundreds gathered on the beach on New Year’s Eve. Pictures: Trevor Jay
Residents have described hearing a defeaning silence as locals saw the aftermath at first light. Picture: David Caird
Residents have described hearing a defeaning silence as locals saw the aftermath at first light. Picture: David Caird
A community meeting was held in the town on New Year’s Day. Pictures: Trevor Jay
A community meeting was held in the town on New Year’s Day. Pictures: Trevor Jay
Locals and tourists are working together to distribute supplies. Pictures: Trevor Jay
Locals and tourists are working together to distribute supplies. Pictures: Trevor Jay