Up to four thousand people have been forced to shelter on a beach in the Australian state of Victoria as wildfires close in.
Those sheltering near the sea in the town of Mallacoota told local media that they could see houses being destroyed by the fire and they could hear gas bottles exploding.
However, a change in wind direction has helped the situation - with the worst of the fire-front now said to have passed the town after the earlier 'terrifying' conditions.
Photos shared by local media earlier had shown the sky turning dark red, while some people used goggles and masks to protect their faces from the smoke.
Four people are also missing in Victoria, with officials saying they have "very real fears for their safety".
As people gathered near the water for safety, fire chief Steve Warrington said it was too late for any land evacuation in Mallacoota.
He explained: "It is simply too late and too dangerous to leave.
"So many of these areas wind through heavily forrested areas with tall timber and dangerous vegetation.
"The last thing we want is people to be isolated and trapped on roadways."
Recent weeks and months have bushfires across Australia, amid intense high temperatures and drought conditions in many areas.
The crew from Fire and Rescue NSW Station 509 Wyoming recorded this video showing the moment their truck was overrun by the bushfire burning South of Nowra. The crew was forced to shelter in their truck as the fire front passed through. #NSWFires #ProtectTheIrreplaceable pic.twitter.com/Hb0yVrefi9
— Fire and Rescue NSW (@FRNSW) December 31, 2019
Hundreds of homes have been destroyed in New South Wales, while three firefighters have died as a result of the blazes.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said consular assistance is available to any Irish citizens affected by the wildfires, adding that he was "thinking of our friends, relatives and everyone in those parts of Australia today gripped by this New Year fire storm".
Meanwhile, Sydney's New Years Eve fireworks display is going ahead despite calls for it to be cancelled due to the ongoing wildfires.
A petition received over 270,000 signatures with people wanting the reported 3.5 million euro to be spent on tackling the blazes.
The city is due to welcome in the New Year at 1pm Irish time.