Blazes still threaten communities in Victoria's bushfire-ravaged east where six people remain missing and almost a million hectares have been destroyed.
About 110 properties and 220 outbuildings have been razed and authorities warn the numbers will likely grow.
"A number of people across East Gippsland that were previously missing ... have been found and I can't tell you how pleased we all are to be able to report that we've gone from 28 to 21, and it is now down to six people," Premier Daniel Andrews said on Saturday night.
"We do have fears for their safety," he added.
Among those who have reached safety are about 1200 people ferried from decimated coastal Mallacoota by HMAS Choules.
The Navy vessel reached Hastings, less than an hour's drive from Melbourne, late on Saturday.
"We were running out of food, for starters," a very relieved Jackie Stefanopoulos, 19, said after stepping ashore and to safety, admitting she had been petrified by the bushfires.
"There was no power in the household I was in, or I was seeking refuge in."
The threat remained across parts of Victoria where more than 900,000 hectares of land has been overrun by fire and 13 emergency warnings remain in place.
The towns of Omeo and Swifts Creek in East Gippsland as well as Corryong near the NSW border were facing a challenging night.
About 50 people were evacuated from Omeo by Chinook helicopters but about 300 chose to stay in the township, Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville confirmed.
The evacuees were flown to Bairnsdale on the western side of the fires, before being transported to Sale.
Conditions were expected to ease by midnight but with more than 53 fires burning people were urged to heed warnings and not be complacent.
"Lives can be lost if people don't follow the instructions they're given," Mr Andrews said.
In Gippsland firefighters were working to save critical infrastructure and the Country Fire Authority's Andy Gillham said they were "in for the long haul".
"This is a marathon event and we expect to be busy managing these fires for at least the next eight weeks."
The fires have already killed Buchan man Mick Roberts and Maramingo Creek man Fred Becker.
About 70 per cent of the 100,000 population of the fire-impacted East Gippsland have fled.
Major highways have been closed for days, phone and powerlines are down, and residents have been told not to drink tap water amid contamination fears.
Heavy smoke has prompted an air quality alert for the Central, North Central, Northern Country, North East and Gippsland Regions by the Environmental Protection Authority.
After the sky turned red, then black at Mallacoota on Tuesday, people from the town are reporting the same thing has happened on Saturday.
Naval vessels plan to re-stock and return to the township to evacuate more people.
About 500 people are at a relief centre in Bairnsdale and there is an overflow centre at the local racecourse.
A state of emergency remains in place for Victoria throughout next week.
Australian Associated Press