Race to flee ‘leave zone’ as Australia fire threat looms

Race to flee 'leave zone' as Australia fire threat looms
Evacuations cause gridlock in Batemans Bay, New South Wales. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times, Sydney: Thousands of people are fleeing a vast ‘tourist leave zone’ in Australia as the forecast of dangerous bushfire in the coming days.

The catastrophic bushfire that has been burning since September last year killed at least 18 people so far and destroyed more than 1,200 homes.

The worst affected states are New South Wales and Victoria. In recent weeks crisis escalates these states again this week.

Police and other emergency services are trying to evacuate people from a vast area of land in both of the states. The evacuation on the NSW south coast is already considered “the largest relocation out of the region ever”.

On Thursday, hundreds of cars jammed highways leading back to Sydney and Canberra. Many were tourists who had abruptly aborted holidays.

Local media broadcasted footage where shows hour-long queues for petrol in the town of Batemans Bay. Fuel was being trucked to the region to fulfill the extra demand.

Many roads are being closed due to the fire and dangers of fallen trees.

The condition has eased slightly, but authorities fear a dangerous forecast for Saturday will threaten lives and homes once again.

NSW Rural Fire Service urged all vacationers to leave the spot before Saturday.

On New Year’s Eve, several hundred homes were burnt down in NSW.

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.

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

What is happening elsewhere?

Fires have been spreading other states too. At least two regions of Western Australia face catastrophic fire danger on Thursday. Bushfire had forced the closure of a 330km stretch of a highway in the state. Some parts of South Australia are also expected to see extreme conditions on Friday.

A satellite image shows the extent of smoke and flames at Batemans Bay. Source: Reuters

Canberra’s air quality was rated worse than any major global city on Thursday due to bushfire.

In Mallacoota town in Victoria state is the most affected town. Many people were stuck there as the roads are being closed by the fire. Navy boat was expected to begin evacuating people who have been cut off from roads.

Police boat supplied 1.6 tonnes of water, medical supplies and food to the struck people.

Fire services in NSW and Victoria warned they have been unable to reach some people in remote areas.