Raging Wildfires Trap 4K at Town's Waterfront

Death toll from Australia fires now at least 12
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 31, 2019 12:32 AM CST
Raging Wildfires Trap 4K at Town's Waterfront
A skycrane drops water on a bushfire in scrub behind houses in Bundoora, Melbourne, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019.   (Ellen Smith/AAP Images via AP)

Wildfires burning across Australia's two most populous states Tuesday trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions, destroyed many properties, and caused at least two fatalities. In the southeastern town of Mallacoota, around 4,000 residents fled toward the waterside as winds pushed an emergency-level wildfire toward their homes. The town was shrouded in darkness from the smoke before turning an unnerving shade of bright red. Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said there were plans to evacuate the trapped people by sea. Grave fears remain for four people missing. "We can't confirm their whereabouts," Andrews told reporters on Tuesday. He has requested assistance from 70 firefighters from the US and Canada.

Victoria Emergency Services Commissioner Andrew Crisp confirmed “significant” property losses across the region, reports the AP. Fire conditions worsened in Victoria and New South Wales states after oppressive heat Monday mixed with strong winds and lightning strikes. New South Wales Police confirmed Tuesday that two men, believed to be father and son, died in a house in the wildfire-ravaged southeast town of Cobargo, while there are fears for another man missing. The two confirmed deaths raise the toll to at least 12 in Australia’s wildfires. A firefighter died Monday when extreme winds flipped his truck. Samuel McPaul, 28, was the third volunteer firefighter in New South Wales to have died in the past two weeks. He was an expectant father.

(More Australia stories.)

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