Tourists told that it is ‘too late to leave’ Victoria region plagued by forest fires
More than 30,000 tourists in Australia who refused to evacuate an area east of Melbourne amid furious forest fires are now “trapped” after the locals had previously warned that a stay would be “suicide.”
Hundreds of flames are burning in Australia, experiencing a devastating summer bushfire season, fueled by a prolonged drought and climate change.
Hundreds of thousands were told to evacuate the popular East Gippsland region of Victoria on Sunday amid fears, rising temperatures and gusts of fire would burn three large flames and cut off the last still open road.
Emergency Chief Andrew Crisp told residents and vacationers to leave Monday at 9:00 am or run the risk of being stranded before giving an update later in the day saying that it is now “too late” to leave safely.
His desk also warned that it is ‘not possible’ to help all visitors.
Meanwhile, residents in northern Melbourne were told to “act immediately to survive,” while the uncontrolled fires crashed on the outskirts of Bundoora.
More than 30,000 people were told to evacuate the popular East Gippsland region of Victoria on Sunday amid fears, rising temperatures and gusts of fire would burn three big flames and cut off the last still open road
Tens of thousands of tourists and residents in the Eastern Gippsland region run the risk of getting stuck when fires across the border between Victoria and New South Wales threaten to cut Princes Highway, the last major escape route open.
The fire has been burned through much of the bushland and has not given any indication of delay (pictured is an aerial photo of the Gippsland fires taken on December 29)
Emergency Chief Andrew Crisp told residents and tens of thousands of vacationers in the Eastern Gippsland region to leave no later than Monday morning
Temperatures in excess of 104F, strong winds, thunderstorms and a wind change that moved through the state meant Monday would be an extreme danger, the authorities said
“You are in danger and must act immediately to survive,” the agency said in a message to residents. ‘The safest option is to hide directly indoors. It is too late to leave. “
Local media showed images of water bombers flying over the neighborhoods and families who flooded their homes with water snakes hoping to stop the spread of the fire.
Bundoora is just 16 km north of Melbourne city center and accommodates two large Australian university campuses.
Ten people were killed, more than 1,000 houses destroyed and more than three million hectares (an area larger than Belgium) scorched.
Conditions deteriorated on Friday with high winds and temperatures rising throughout the country – up to 117F (47C) in Western Australia and a top of 104F (40C) in every region – including the mostly temperate island of Tasmania.
In Eastern Gippsland, firefighters said some of the fires burned so violently that hundreds of firefighters were withdrawn after it was deemed “unsafe” for them to stay in bushland areas,
Gippsland fire incident controller Ben Rankin said the situation is “very intense.”
Neighboring South Australia is also experiencing ‘catastrophic’ fire conditions.
Brenton Eden from the Country Fire Service said it would be a “very dangerous” day for people in the state, with “dry” thunderstorms – producing thunder and lightning but no rain – that are already causing a number of fires, including a fire on emergency level Kangaroo Island.
“Winds are gusts of wind and unfortunately this is a dry lightning front that will move quickly through South Australia,” he told national broadcaster ABC.
Conditions were also expected to deteriorate in New South Wales, where 100 fires burned Monday morning, including more than 40 uninhibited.
Sydney and other major cities have been wrapped in poisonous bushfire smoke spray for weeks, forcing children to play indoors and canceling professional sporting events.
A map with areas that are currently lit (in black), areas where emergency warnings are present (red), areas where people are told to closely monitor the circumstances (orange) and where fire advice has been issued (yellow)
Victorian authorities released serious emergency warnings on Monday fires in East Gippsland
Temperatures are rising Monday in Victoria, with a total fire ban in the state and extreme fire hazard ratings in most regions
Some tourists said they received ‘mixed signals’ after receiving text messages calling on them to leave immediately, but later motel staff told them they were safe
A koala drinks water from a bottle given by a firefighter in Cudlee Creek, South Australia. Thousands of koalas are feared to have died in a devastated area north of Sydney
The capital Canberra has canceled its fireworks show on New Year’s Eve because of a total fire ban in the Australia Capital Territory, while several regional cities have followed this example.
A petition to cancel Sydney’s famous New Year’s fireworks and use the money to fight forest fires that surround the city has reached 270,000 signatures, but officials say the show will continue.
Sydney has spent $ 6.5 million ($ 4.5 million) on fireworks shows this year – funds that, according to the Change.org petition, could be better spent on supporting volunteer firefighters and farmers suffering from a severe drought.
On Sunday, local retailer Richard Darby warned residents and tourists who chose to ignore the warnings that it could be “suicide.”
“Tomorrow’s going to be a very bad day, they tell everyone to leave as long as they can,” Darby said The Herald Sun..
Mayor John White from Eastern Gippsland said that bushland in the region was bone dry after three years of drought.
“Hopefully people listen to the messages. You can rebuild houses, barns and fences, but life is irreplaceable, “he said.
But many pay little attention to the warnings.
Managers at holiday parks in the Eastern Gippsland region, particularly at the Lakes Entrance, said that most of their customers opted for a stay and had taken a relaxed approach.
“We know that some people have left, others stay,” Iain Podd said, staying at a holiday park on the edge of the fire zone, The Australian.
Firefighters have been fighting fire in the region for weeks. This photo was uploaded last Sunday after a day full of fighting
A desperate koala marks a cyclist and drinks water from her bottle as the temperatures rise in Australia, which is being destroyed by forest fires
“The receptionist here told us that the wind direction means that we are not affected. But of course we will continue if the situation changes. “
Michael Smits, who manages the Big 4 Whiters holiday village at Lakes Entrance, said that only six of the 67 groups that stayed there had been evacuated.
‘Many people say they hang out in the city, go to a cafe, maybe go to the beach or walk up and down on the Esplanade. There is certainly no panic, “he said.
Others said they chose to stay in place because a massive evacuation would cause chaos on the roads.
‘Thirty, forty thousand people simultaneously take the Princess Highway. That is just chaos – an accident that is about to happen. Emergency services could not keep up with the road – and neither could the road, “a holidaymaker told Seven News.
Meanwhile, other tourists said they received ‘mixed signals’ after receiving text messages calling on them to leave immediately, but later motel staff told them they were safe.
A woman who shared the confusion with Twitter was encouraged to evacuate and said she was reimbursed for three nights by the motel management.
“You can’t sue the motel for bad advice when you’re dead,” a person wrote in response to her question whether she should leave.
In Victoria, emergency services cannot force people to leave their homes.
This bushfire season has already taken nine leaves and destroyed more than 1,000 properties along much of Australia’s east coast.
The flames have not shown any signs of delay.
Temperatures in Victoria are predicted to rise after 40 ° C on Monday, which in combination with hot, dry winds can feed the fire and push it further towards risk communities.
Three major fires are still burning in Eastern Gippsland – near Bruthen, Buchan and Bonang – but the authorities predict that each of them could spread by the morning.
Victorian authorities have told tourists in Lakes Entrance (photo) to leave now because of wild forest fires in East Gippsland
Firemen tackling a fire in Gippsland. Catastrophic fire conditions are predicted for Monday, causing Victorian authorities to warn holidaymakers to evacuate immediately
‘Leave now’ warnings have been made for parts of Victoria because the weather conditions are expected to deteriorate
Bureau of Meteorology Kevin Parkyn said that a wind change in East Gippsland around midnight is “very problematic when it comes to fires and the landscape.”
“It’s a very serious life-threatening situation. Make no mistake, “he said.
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews posted a Tweet urging tourists to leave.
“If you’re in Eastern Gippsland, you have to leave today while it’s safe to do that,” Andrews said.
‘Residents must activate their fire plan and consider staying outside the area with friends and family. If you are visiting, you must leave today. DO NOT travel to the area. ”
The combination of the hot, dry windy conditions in combination with the wind change over the state on Monday will fuel the annoying fire conditions.
More than 70 helicopters and planes will work on Monday if the circumstances allow.
People in Goongerah and Martins Creek have also been told to evacuate because a forest fire that burned east to their communities was still not under control on Sunday.
There is a wait and action warning for Goongerah, Martins Creek, Nurran, Sardine Creek and Errinundra, which says that “leaving is now the safest option” before circumstances change.
Monday is a complete fire ban for the entire state of Victoria.
Event organizers have advised festival visitors not to return to Lorne (photo) or other coastal towns on the Great Ocean Road because they face the same extreme weather conditions
The extreme weather conditions forced Falls Festival in Lorne to cancel the rest of the acts.
About 9,000 festival visitors were sent home because the region braced itself for heavy weather, including wind up to 100 km / h and storms.
In a statement on Sunday morning, festival organizers Secret Sounds said that circumstances posed a risk to health and safety.
“It is with a heavy heart that we had to cancel the remaining days of The Falls Festival in Lorne because of the predicted extreme weather conditions predicted for Monday December 30 in the Otways and the surrounding region, creating a risk to health and safety due to potential fires, smoke, strong winds and tree hazards.
“The decision was not taken lightly, the safety of our patron and staff is our priority,” the statement said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who announced compensation for NSW volunteers at the fire site in Sydney, said other states were also at his head.
“We see a very difficult situation popping up in Victoria, where we know that weather conditions are changing, especially in the coming days,” he said Sunday.
“I want to insure Australians outside of New South Wales … our attention is the same and ensures that coordinated efforts are made between states and territories.”
A ‘severe’ heat wave sweeping Australia is expected during the New Year period. Pictured: national forecast for Monday, December 30, with light purple meaning 45C and red 28C