The devastated wife of a young farmer who was found dead with his dad after fighting to save the family farm on New Year's eve has paid an emotional tribute to her husband.
A father and son, Patrick Salway, 29, was confirmed to have died – along with his father, 63-year-old Robert – following an overnight battle to save their property near the NSW village of Cobargo.
Another man remained missing by Wednesday morning and is feared dead.
Renee Salway, the mother of the young couple's only son, Harvey, is pregnant with her second child.
"I love you now, I love you still, I always have and I always will," she said in a message to family and friends on Facebook.
"I will see you again Patrick, my best friend.
"Hope you are up there fixing things in the stars tonight. Thank you, everyone, for your concern. We are broken. Goodnight."
Thousands of families are without power, phone lines or clean water on the NSW south coast after terrifying bushfires ripped through the region, destroying homes and forcing thousands of holidaymakers to shelter on beaches.
Earlier on Tuesday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed the latest tragic death after 2,000 firefighters worked to stop fires burning out of control across the state.
“We can say certainly that the two men at Cobargo are residents of Cobargo,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“A father and son, we believe. Very tragic set of circumstances. Obviously trying to do their best with the fire as it came through in the early hours of the morning.
“The other person that we are trying to get to, west of Narooma, we think that person as well was caught up, trying to defend their property in the early hours of the morning.”
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
“We are defending life only at this stage,’’ an RFS volunteer warned, adding they would not be able to defend all homes in the township.
By 7am, the RFS was working to evacuate multiple children from a house on fire in the town. A volunteer ordered an ambulance, explaining “the kids have no shoes”, and were burning their feet on the road.
Eight fires were burning at emergency level by lunchtime, including the 226,000-hectare Currowan blaze, the 31,000-hectare Clyde Mountain fire near Batemans Bay, and the 26,000-hectare Green Valley fire east of Albury.
By 10am, the sky had turned black in the seaside town of Bermagui. Channel Seven journalist Nat Edwards, who was holidaying in the region, posted images of cars packing the foreshore and residents evacuated to the surf club.
“Never seen anything like this. We are in Bermagui on the south coast … the whole town is taking shelter at the beach,’’ she said.
At times, exhausted firies begged for reinforcements but none were available as the flames raged down the entire NSW south coast, from Bega in the south and beyond to Nowra in the north.
“There are no bloody trucks so we are buggered,’’ an exhausted volunteer broadcast over the RFS radio at 11 am.
By lunchtime, there were unconfirmed reports on RFS radio of up to 40 houses at risk in West Conjola and requests for reinforcements, as residents posted images of huge plumes of smoke in the town.
“Just save life only,” was the RFS radio reply.
“Standby and fight the fire with what you have. Stay safe and get out if you can,’’ another RFS volunteer was told later in the afternoon.