A week-long state of emergency has been declared across NSW as the state prepares to endure some of the worst bushfire conditions yet, with temperatures expected to hit 46C by Saturday.
Thousands of people will be subject to forced evacuations as officials scramble to move holidaymakers and locals alike from dangerous areas.
Catastrophic conditions which fanned blazes on the New South Wales south coast and in eastern Victoria on Wednesday will return within 48 hours, giving fire services little time to prepare.
Key roads are likely to be closed with little notice across the state thanks to the 'volatile' conditions, which will worsen on Saturday thanks to blistering temperatures and high winds.
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Hundreds of fires are still burning out of control across the country, destroying millions of hectares, killing 18 and leaving 1,200 homes destroyed, with catastrophic 46C weather forecast for Saturday (pictured)
The first recovery boat is pictured in Victoria's Mallacoota, near the NSW border, on Thursday morning, as officials prepare to evacuate thousands of people from the fire-ravaged up to Batemans Bay
A kangaroo rushes past a burning house in Conjola (pictured) on New Year's Eve, as officials prepare for a 'horrible day' on Saturday, with blistering temperatures and high winds likely to make conditions far worse
Addressing reporters on Thursday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said they were preparing for a 'horrible day on Saturday'.
'Given the worsening conditions we know are ahead of us on Saturday and what our state has been through in the last few days, especially New Year's Eve, we will be declaring a state of emergency from 9am tomorrow that will last seven days,' she said.
'This is to make sure all of our agencies and organisations know that from tomorrow they will be subject to forced evacuations, road closures, road openings and anything else we need to do as a state to keep residents safe and keep property safe.'
She added that she hopes the state of emergency will help to move the thousands of tourists still in vulnerable areas to escape before Saturday.
'We do not take these decisions lightly, but we also want to make sure we take every single precaution to prepare for what could be a horrible day on Saturday,' Ms Berejiklian added.
'We know that temperatures will be int the mid 40s in parts of the state and we know there are more fires burning today than we'd like in these milder conditions.'
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) told reporters on Thursday that the government doesn't take such decisions 'lightly' but was putting a place a week-long state of emergency
Tourists and residents have been told to evacuate a 250km stretch of the New South Wales south coast (pictured) as devastating bushfires threaten the area
In one of the biggest peacetime evacuations in Australian history, the NSW Rural Fire Service has told people to flee the 250km stretch from Bateman's Bay down to the state border - as a navy landing ship prepares to evacuate people trapped in Mallacoota in eastern Victoria as roads are closed off.
'If you are planning on visiting the South Coast this weekend, it is not safe. Do not be in the area on Saturday,' the service said.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance called it the 'largest evacuation of people out of the region ever' as a queue of cars clogged the highway toward Sydney while thousands fled.
Locals and holidaymakers who decided to stay queued for hours for supplies as panic-buying emptied shelves at supermarkets which were powered by generators as electricity was turned off.
Residents met in the Mallacoota town hall on Thursday afternoon (pictured) for an evacuation briefing by defence force officials, after the town was surrounded by flames
Left: Commanding Officer of HMAS Choules CMDR Scott Houlihan leading a liaison team to meet with community leaders in Mallacoota, Victoria. Right: HMAS Choules travels through smokey haze off the coast of Mallacoota, Victoria on Thursday
HMAS Choules' enhanced medical team (pictured) disembarks a MRH-90 Taipan maritime support helicopter as the ship prepares to provide support to the communities affected by bushfires
Holidaymakers attempting to flee Batemans Bay before temperatures reach 46C on Saturday were trapped on the roads with long rows of cars seen piled up on Thursday (pictured)
HMAS Choules (pictured leaving Sydney Harbour on Wednesday) will provide relief to 4,000 people who remain stranded in Mallacoota, Victoria
At 10am on Thursday the HMAS Choules and the MV Sycamore, a defence contracted training vessel, arrived off the coast of Mallacoota where 4,000 people are stranded - as troops in helicopters delivered food, water and medicine to isolated towns.
HMAS Choules is a Bay-class landing ship that served with the British Royal Navy from 2006 to 2011.
The vessel was built by Swan Hunter in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear.
She was named after Largs Bay in Ayrshire, Scotland.
During her career with the RFA, Largs Bay served as the British ship assigned to patrol the Falkland Islands in 2008, and delivered relief supplies following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
When she was bought by Australia in 2011, she was re-named HMAS Choules.
RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers told the ABC officials are desperate to get tourists out before Saturday as strong winds, scorching temperatures and low humidity was forecast.
'We have so many fires still burning down there … and quite close to communities as well,' he said.
'We won't get containment on those fires before Saturday.'
Major highways leading out of the leave zone, including the Princes Highway between Milton and Nowra, were reopened on Thursday. Falls Creek at Jervis Bay Road and Corks Lane at Milton has also reopened but with reduced speed.
However, many people have struggled to flee as many petrol stations have either run out of fuel or are without power. Queues of cars have been seen at the remaining petrol stations around Batemans Bay that still have stock.
Tankers of 60,000 litres of fuel were brought in overnight to help with the disaster.
An evacuation zone stretching more than 250 kilometers along the New South Wales south coast has been set up as scorching temperatures and more devastating bushfires threaten the area
By Brittany Chain for Daily Mail Australia
Declaring a state of emergency relinquishes decision making powers from the NSW government and allows RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons more control over his team of firefighters.
For the next seven days during the state of emergency, can now control and coordinate the allocation of government resources, close roads and evacuate residents.
Ms Fitzsimmons now has the ability to:Control and coordinate the allocation of government resourcesEvacuate people from property within declared areasClose roads and thoroughfares to trafficPull down or shore up infrastructure at risk of collapseShut down utilities in the declared area including electricity, gas, oil and waterEnter or take possession of property for emergency response
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian previously said the 'decision to declare a state of emergency is not taken lightly.
'You only declare states of emergency when it's absolutely necessary and on expert advice from commissioners.'
It is the third state of emergency she has declared since the start of this year's horror bushfire season, which has seen at least 18 people die and thousands of homes destroyed.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said in press conference on Thursday afternoon that 17 people are missing feared dead and one is confirmed dead after fires in Gippsland on Wednesday.
Talking about the evacuation effort, he said the HMAS Choules was able to carry roughly 700 passengers at a time.
'We think around 3,000 tourists and 1,000 locals are there. Not all of those will want to leave, not all can get on the vessel at one time,' he said.
'Then there's a whole lot of planning going on about where that vessel will go, it will be a long trip, potentially a 10 or 12 hour trip to take them to another port and then to provide them with all the support they will need.'
Hundreds of fires are burning out of control across the country in a horrific season which has killed 18 people, razed 1,298 homes and destroyed millions of hectares of land.
This picture taken on December 31, 2019 shows a firefighter hosing down trees and flying embers in an effort to secure nearby houses from bushfires near the town of Nowra on the NSW south coast
Business owner Sally Anne Wilson (left) stands in front of her destroyed shop with her partner Christopher Lee in Cobargo, NSW, Wednesday, January 1, 2020
On Wednesday more than 300 residents were seen queuing outside a Woolworths in Ulladulla, NSW, which has experienced power outages
This satellite image shows the devastation of the fires devastating the coastal town of Batemans Bay, on the NSW south coast, early Wednesday morning as the blaze