The Upper Murray bushfire in Victoria’s North East on December 30, 2019. Image: ABC

The tragic loss of young firefighter Samuel McPaul at Jingellic yesterday and the ongoing Upper Murray bushfire emergency is devastating.

My heartfelt condolences go to Mr McPaul’s family, his friends, volunteer firefighting colleagues and those injured in the rollover which took his life.

To all of you who are protecting and supporting the Upper Murray communities of Walwa, Cudgewa, Corryong and neighbouring farms and villages: thank you for your bravery, skill and duty.

These same Indi communities are experiencing another shocking day, and hundreds of people are in relief centres in Tallangatta and Corryong.

The ABC transmitter in the North East has also been affected by these fires because of power supply issues. For Upper Murray listeners broadcasts on 106.5FM may drop out. Listeners should try frequencies 675AM, 720AM and ABC Gippsland on the ABC app.

I today re-opened my Wodonga office at 79 High Street today to offer assistance to anyone affected by this disaster and to liaise with federal government emergency support.

Telstra this afternoon announced disaster assistance for customers affected by the Upper Murray bushfire emergency. For people who’ve had to leave their homes, the short-term package can include:

  • Free use of Telstra public payphones
  • Free use of Telstra Air payphone hotspots
  • Free call diversion, and
  • One-off credit

If you have use of a phone, call 132 203 to register. Then enter your full home number, including area code, when prompted. Longer-term assistance from Telstra is also available.

Ausnet has also advised that power supplies may not be restored to Corryong and neighbouring communities for several days.

Please continue to check the VicEmergency app for regular updates, or go to http://www.emergency.vic.gov.au/respond/ for the latest advice.

Bushfire emergency warning issued for the Upper Murray at 3:28pm on December 31, 2019. Image: Vic Emergency