Science

“Waiting half an hour to leave is taking a risk”: the fires in Australia out of control

The scorching temperatures and high winds expected this Saturday are likely to fuel the unprecedented fires that have ravaged the country for four months. More than 100 000 additional people were evacuated on Friday

While the weather conditions of the weekend may further aggravate the catastrophic forest fires, a state of emergency has been declared in the south-east of the island continent, the most populated region, and order was given Friday to over 79 000 people to evacuate their home. “Today is about saving lives,” said New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“Our message was to make sure you leave yesterday (Friday). Leaving until today is taking a risk, waiting half an hour more is taking a greater risk ”

New South Wales State Fire Chief Shane Fitzsimmons

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Photo credit: SAEED KHAN AFP

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Photo credit: SAEED KHAN AFP

Tourists and inhabitants of the south-east of the country have thus abandoned their summer holiday resorts or their accommodation. The highways connecting the coastal cities to Sydney and other major cities were congested by long lines of cars.

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Photo credit: PETER PARKS AFP

Heat wave and high winds

Saturday promises to be “long” and difficult, according to Shane Fitzsimmons. Expected heat wave temperatures – exceeding 26 ° C – will indeed be accompanied by strong winds which risk stoking the hundreds of forest fires burning across the country for four months, most of which are outside control.

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Photo credit: PETER PARKS AFP

The weather conditions should be Saturday “identical, even worse than what we saw on New Year's Eve,” warned Jonathan How, of the weather Australian. “Strong and dry westerly winds will revive the current fires”, “threatening populations that have already suffered major devastation”.

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Photo credit: SAEED KHAN AFP

Ghost towns

Supermarkets, shops, closed pubs: calm strange and disturbing reigned Saturday on Batemans Bay, a tourist town usually overflowing with activity, and today in prey with the smoke of the surrounding fires. The only sign of life in this locality, a reception center for evacuees, where hundreds of inhabitants forced to leave their homes have found refuge in tents and caravans, installed on a plot of land in the city.

Several tens of thousands of Australians have evacuated their homes while the weather conditions of the weekend risk further aggravating the catastrophic forest fires. They transform into ghost towns tourist resorts usually animated in this season #AFP pic.twitter.com/dop5QU3Nls

— Agence France-Presse (@afpfr) January 4, 2020

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Photo credit: SHANE CAMERON AFP

It looks like “a refugee camp”, noted a resident Friday evening, settling there with her husband. Mick Cummins, 57 years old, and his wife fled to the evacuation center when fire ravaged their village on New Year's Eve.

“We said to ourselves: c is too hard for us, let's go out. We went to the beach and hellish flames came up the hill. I was here during the fires in 1994. I thought it was hard. It was just a barbecue ”

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Photo credit: NICOLE DORRETT Department of Defense / AFP

the equivalent twice Belgium went up in smoke

The scale of the fires in Australia shocked the country and the world. Since the start of the fire season in September, 23 people died, according to the Prime Minister. Dozens of others are missing, over 1 300 houses have been reduced to ashes. An area equivalent to twice Belgium burned.

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Photo credit: PETER PARKS AFP

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Photo credit: PETER PARKS AFP

Les fires have also been deadly for wildlife, and have destroyed almost all of Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island, which is home to kangaroos and koalas.

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Photo credit: SAEED KHAN AFP

In the small seaside town of Mallacoota, the Australian navy evacuated on Friday a thousand inhabitants and tourists surrounded by flames and some of whom had taken refuge on the seafront from the New Year's Eve to protect yourself.

“The flames approached until 50 meters from us. We had to drive among them because it was the only way to leave. We were stranded without power for four days. We had five children with us but no food for a day ”

Eloise Givney, 26 years

Sud Ouest

Photo credit: HELEN FRANK AFP

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