Emergency officials in Australia have a 24 hour deadline to move thousands of people stranded on the New South Wales (NSW) South Coast who could face a looming fire crisis when this weekend’s latest heatwave arrives.
Bushfire-ravaged communities in southern NSW are assessing the damage after seven lives and 176 homes were lost. In Victoria, south of NSW, residents are coming to terms with horrifying bushfires which have destroyed properties and claimed at least one life in East Gippsland. Firefighters continue to fend off blazes and try and evacuate communities before the weekend’s northerly winds bring 40+ temperatures to the area.
Victoria’s Premier told reporters this morning there were 17 people missing in Victoria due to the East Gippsland fires and confirmed the death of a Buchan resident.
“Their whereabouts is unknown to us, and one person is confirmed dead.”
Speaking to The Thaiger this morning, holiday-makers in the East Gippsland town of Paynesville said they were evacuating out before the weekend’s high temperatures and hot northerly winds potentially threatened their communities.
On the phone a Raymond Island resident told us that they could see the glow of the fires during the night and recognised the astonishing speed they were moving.
2,000 kilometres away in Western Australia, a “Catastrophic Fire Danger’ rating has been issued for the Goldfields region today.
Meanwhile, hundreds of residents have been brought to safety in the fire-ravaged town of Mallacoota in far east Gippsland. The HMAS Choules arrived off the coast this morning from Sydney and the first recovery craft was ferrying people to the vessel at 9.30am. The residents had been hemmed in by fires coming over the hills and had sought safety on the beach.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has addressed specific questions about climate change in his press conference and conceded that this fire season has been “extremely extraordinary” and alluded to a broad link with climate change. His government has had a broad standpoint not recognising the affects of climate change.
“Let me be clear to the Australian people, our emissions reductions policies, will both protect our environment and seek to reduce the risk and hazard we are seeing today.”