Published on : Monday, December 30, 2019
Tens of thousands of residents and tourists in Victoria have been urged to vacate “immediately to survive”, as rising bushfires threaten. Most of the tourist locations in east Gippsland are experiencing temperatures north of 40 degree celsius, with strong winds expected to fan already out-of-control fire and dry lightning forecasted to spark new fires. The Emergencies chief Andrew Crisp told that those in the region to leave no later than Monday morning to avoid what authorities warned would be one of the most significant fire weather days in Victoria’s history.
But the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that some residents appear dismissive of the fire risk, claiming “it will be fine”, while others are choosing to stay put lest they put additional pressure one of the few remaining thoroughfares out of the region – the Princes Highway. With other national highways already shut due to wildfires, the authorities urged people to heed the evacuation warnings early, suggesting a panicked last minute exit – and wildfires – could block the road. It has now reopened after being partly closed for several hours late on Sunday.
Mr Crisp said that you should not be there tomorrow and they want you to get out now. But the Country Fire Authority began to warn on Monday morning that for those in some areas, it was already too late to leave. Victorian broadcaster estimates 30,000 people had been holidaying in east Gippsland when the “severe” fire warnings were issued.
There are a further seven “extreme” warnings in place across Victoria, with a warning in each of the vast state’s districts. The organisers of a music festival in the state, expected to run until New Year’s Eve, cancelled the event due to the fire risk. About 9,000 people were already camping on site. He warned that while 1000 firefighters, 60 trucks and more than 70 helicopters and planes were on standby, “rest assured there aren’t enough trucks to go around.
The state of New South Wales (NSW) is also facing severe fire conditions over coming days, with conditions expected to reach their most dangerous on Tuesday.
NSW is one of Australia’s most populous koala habitats, and environment minister Sussan Ley warned up to 9,000 koalas may have been killed in this year’s fires – accounting for roughly one third of their population.
The ecologists also believe 480 million animals could have been killed since the fires started in September, which have burnt more than five million hectares (12 million acres) and killed eight people.
The firefighting authorities, however, have refused to rule out the chance of cancelling the display at the last minute.