'We stayed on beach while fires burned around us': Irish man in Australia recounts wildfire horror

'We stayed on beach while fires burned around us': Irish man in Australia recounts wildfire horror
Wildfires rage under plumes of smoke in Bairnsdale, Australia. Thousands of tourists fled Australia's wildfire-ravaged eastern coast Thursday ahead of worsening conditions as the military started to evacuate people trapped on the shore further south. (Glen Morey via AP)

An Irish man living in Australia has spoken about his experience after being caught up in the wildfires ravaging the eastern coast of the country.

Diarmuid O'Connor from Ennis in Co Clare spoke to Damien O'Reilly this morning on Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 as he was stuck in evacuation traffic on the Princes Highway in New South Wales.

At least eight people have died this week in NSW and neighbouring Victoria, Australia’s two most-populous states, where more than 200 fires are currently burning.

Diarmuid said that he and his family woke on New Years Eve in Batemans Bay, where they were on holidays, and were told they had to evacuate the campsite and move to the beaches.

"We stayed on the beach for maybe two hours while the fires burned around us," he said.

"I thought were ok but then we saw there were a lot of water bombers coming into the town, dropping loads of water..."

"It was a very intense couple of hours."

"It's just been mayhem for two days, no power, no internet - the lack of communication has been a big issue"

Diarmuid said they left the town this morning and has been travelling for 12 hours and have only moved 60 kilometres.

"Essentially, we're sitting in the world's biggest car park," he said.

'We stayed on beach while fires burned around us': Irish man in Australia recounts wildfire horror

He and his family were stuck in a town called Milton at the time of the call.

"The road has apparently opened up ahead of us. They're letting 100 cars go at a time but I'd be very surprised if we move anywhere in the next 4/5 hours."

Listen to the full interview below.

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