Bush fires ravage Australia as residents flee homes

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Authorities urged Australians on Friday to evacuate parts of the eastern states of Victoria and New South Wales to escape bushfires they fear are set to burn out of control this weekend.

In a harbinger of the searing conditions expected, a number of fires burnt out of control in South Australia as temperatures topped 40 degrees C (104 F) across the state and strong winds fanned flames.

Victoria declared a state of disaster across areas home to about 100,000 people, with authorities urging people to evacuate before deterioration expected on Saturday.

“If they value their safety they must leave,” Michael Grainger of the state’s police emergency responders said.

Authorities advised holidaymakers and residents to leave national parks and tourist areas on the south coast of New South Wales, where a week-long state of emergency has been called.

A death confirmed on Friday takes the state’s toll this week to eight. Two people have died in Victoria, and 28 are unaccounted for.

In Victoria, naval vessels Choules and Sycamore started evacuations of about a quarter of the 4,000 people stranded on a beach in the isolated town of Malla¬coota.

With roads blocked, sea transport and some airlifts are the only way out of the stricken town, although heavy smoke prevented flights on Friday.

Weather officials on Friday rated the danger from fire “very high” to “extreme” in most districts in South Australia, with a similar outlook for New South Wales and Victoria on Saturday.

Authorities urged Australians on Friday to evacuate parts of the eastern states of Victoria and New South Wales to escape bush fires they fear are set to burn out of control this weekend.

In a harbinger of the searing conditions expected, a number of fires burnt out of control in South Australia as temperatures topped 40 degrees C (104 F) across much of the state and strong winds fanned flames.

Victoria declared a state of disaster across areas home to about 100,000 people, with authorities urging people to evacuate before deterioration expected on Saturday.

“If they value their safety they must leave,” Michael Grainger of the state’s police emergency responders said.

I’d suggest personal belongings are of very, very little value in these circumstances. These are dire circumstances, there is no doubt.”

Authorities advised holidaymakers and residents to leave national parks and tourist areas on the south coast of New South Wales, where a week-long state of emergency has been called.

A death confirmed on Friday takes the state’s toll this week to eight. Two people have died in Victoria, and 28 are unaccounted for.

In Victoria, naval vessels Choules and Sycamore started evacuations of about a quarter of the 4,000 people stranded on a beach in the isolated town of Malla¬coota.

With roads blocked, sea transport and some airlifts are the only way out of the stricken town, although heavy smoke prevented flights on Friday.

Weather officials on Friday rated the danger from fire “very high” to “extreme” in most districts in South Australia, with a similar outlook for New South Wales and Victoria on Saturday.