• Rhi Sugars shared this photo of the Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council building. (Facebook/Rhi Sugars)
Five members of Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council have been left homeless and terrified after their houses went up in flames, along with the Council's building.
By
Madeline Hayman-Reber

Source:
NITV News
3 Jan 2020 - 1:01 PM  UPDATED 3 Jan 2020 - 1:01 PM

The Yuin community is in mourning after fires engulfed the coastal village of Mogo, destroying the homes of five members of the Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council, along with the building itself.

CEO Linda Carlson described what it was like to helplessly watch the fire in the moments before the entire town was wiped out as "terrifying".

“I was in Batemans Bay and I just saw this fireball coming and it was heading straight for Mogo and I thought that whole village is gone,” Ms Carlson told NITV News on Friday.

“I thought wow, something is happening with me. I didn’t feel safe, so I went down to the marina.”

Ms Carlson said the sky turned black just after midday and there was an eerie silence before “all hell broke loose”

“I just watched Batemans Bay get burnt, straight through the middle of it. All the gas bottles were going off and the sky turned black with a big red fire in it. It was a really eerie feeling like the apocalypse had come,” Ms Carlson said.

She had been monitoring the Fires Near Me app on her phone, and the village of Mogo located about 10km away looked safe, but that suddenly changed when a westerly wind blew through the region.

“I was sitting there looking at the map and I just thought oh my god, everything will be burnt to the ground. It’s like a horror scene, whole buildings just blown out,” Ms Carlson said.

One of the buildings razed housed the Mogo Aboriginal Land Council.

“I nearly cried. The people are just traumatised for their houses. There were some local members who rescued other family members and took them to safety,” Ms Carlson said.

“They were driving through walls of fire to get out of there when they reached a point of no return.”

She said some people who stayed to protect their houses did so successfully, but described the scene of the whole town “like a bomb has gone off”.

With tomorrow predicted to be another catastrophic day for the region, Ms Carlson said she fears the worst is yet to come.

“It could be a whole devastation zone of the whole south coast," she said.

Despite being warned to evacuate to Canberra, things have proven difficult and dangerous for those remaining.

“It’s like a disaster zone, there’s burnt tree limbs falling on the ground on the road and trees are just falling over,” Ms Carlson said.

“We’re covered in smoke, yesterday was just a nightmare, you couldn’t see in front of you. It was a horror story, and now everyone has to prepare for this one on Saturday.”

In the meantime, she is urgently looking for safe accommodation for at-risk members of the Yuin community, along emergency accommodation for those who have lost their homes.

Aboriginal communities prepare for worsening bushfire conditions
One person has been confirmed dead, and 17 people remain missing in the East Gippsland region. The total death toll for this fire season now stands at nine.