Australia fires: Thousands flee to the sea as fires race to coast

Australia fires Thousands flee to the sea as fires race to coast
Locals were left sheltering on the beach at Mallacoota on Tuesday morning. Source: Peter Hoskin
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Daily US Times, New South Wales: Thousands of Australians have fled to the seafront to seek shelter as the raging fire racing to the coast.

People are describing their ‘terrifying experiences’ of camping on wharves and boarding boats under blood-red skies. The Victorian coastal town of Mallacoota has become so unlivable that embers are tossing here and there as one blaze moved.

Meanwhile, the death toll also rises to 12 as two men believed to be a father and son died in New South Wales.

Several holiday spots along the coast between Sydney and Melbourne are currently cut off by the blaze.

More than a dozen of ’emergency level’ blazes span a 310 miles stretch across two Australian states, New South Wales and Victoria. There are five people missing in these states, four in Victoria and one in NSW.

The bodies were found in NSW’s Corbargo town. A massive blaze had ripped through the town’s main street on Tuesday.

NSW police deputy commissioner Gary Worboys called this a ‘very tragic set of circumstances’.

‘They were obviously trying to do their best with the fire as it came through in the early hours of the morning’, he added.

Desperate people left their homes, and isolated communities are gathering in the shores.

Victoria’s state premier Daniel Andrews said navy ships might be called upon to provide food, water and power to the cut-off townships. The main road of the region is closed off due to fire.

The bushfires in Australia have been blazing since September, and due to a surge in temperatures, winds, and dry lightning, the fire gets intense over time.

We were ready to jump into the sea

Residents of the NSW towns of Bermagui and Batemans Bay, mostly holiday towns also fled on Tuesday morning to the waterfront or makeshift evacuation sites near the shore.

Fleeing locals told BBC they bunkered in as the raining ash on the beaches and firefront approached. ‘It’s bloody scary’, described by one local.

A local business owner and a resident of one of the worst-affected spots on Tuesday Mallacoota David Jeffrey said, ‘It should have been daylight, but it was black as midnight, and we could hear the fire roaring. We were all terrified for our lives.’

He said ‘There’s a rock wall that they’ve built to keep back the sea, and that was where we were going to jump into the water if the radiant heat had hit.’

The fire swept through the town destroying numerous buildings, but was kept back from the shore by a change in the wind, locals said.