Several emergency warnings are in place across Victoria as wildfires rage across Australia. According to Victoria Emergency, the warnings mean people in the areas concerned are in “imminent danger”.
Victoria Emergency has also issued several warnings on Twitter telling people in a handful of villages in remote parts of the state “it is too late to leave” and advising them to stay inside.
On Twitter, the warning stated: “This WATCH & ACT – BUSHFIRE message is being issued for Furnell, Genoa, Tamboon, Tamboon South, Wingan River.
“This replaces the Emergency Warning that was issued at 4.30pm today. It is too late to leave. Shelter in place.”
As fires worsened on Tuesday, two more people died and five others were missing feared dead.
Thousands were evacuated to beaches as the flames raged out of control in Mallacoota.
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Andrew Tupper of the Victoria Bureau of Meteorology said at a news conference on Monday: “The extreme fire dangers, the strong winds that were forecast, and the very hot temperatures have all come as we thought.”
Victoria Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said several new fires broke out there Monday, and conditions aren’t expected to improve until midnight local time.
Mr Crisp said at a briefing on Monday: “We have been telling people for more than 24 hours East Gippsland is at significant risk. You should not be on the roads.”
In the state of Victoria, out-of-control wildfires are forcing thousands of residents and holidaymakers to evacuate.
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Police said a father and son died in the early hours of Tuesday defending their home in Cobargo, near the coast in the state of New South Wales (NSW), 280 miles south of Sydney.
The town was hit by one out-of-control fire which roared into the community in the middle of the night, with its main street bearing the impact.
Further south, fires continued to blaze out of control in the state of Victoria, where some 4,000 people were forced to take shelter on the beach in the holiday town of Mallacoota, in the East Gippsland district along the Pacific coast.
The death toll from more than three months of wildfires in multiple states now stands at 12.
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Temperatures in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, peaked at 41C on Monday with areas south-west of the city reaching 44C.
Lightning started 16 fires in Victoria overnight, but cooler temperatures were expected to sweep the state later on Monday.
However, windy conditions and thunderstorms have heightened the risk of wildfires spreading.
Victoria emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp said fires had generated their own thunderstorms, creating “unpredictable and dangerous” conditions.
He said there had been no confirmed loss of properties in the region.
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Victoria emergency services minister Lisa Neville said the worst could be ahead.
“This is not yet over. We’re really only halfway through what is ahead of us here,” she said.
Near Jingellic, New South Wales, a firefighter died while battling the Green Valley Fire.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service gave news of the dead on Twitter writing: “#NSWRFS confirms that a volunteer firefighter has died this evening near Jingellic.
“A further 2 firefighters have suffered burns. The firefighters were working on the Green Valley Fire, about 70km east of #Albury.
“It’s believed that the truck rolled when hit by extreme winds.”
The devastating blazes have triggered calls for the cancellation of Sydney’s famous New Year’s Eve fireworks show.
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However, Sydney will set off its famous New Year fireworks display after being granted an exemption to a total fire ban.
Other Australian cities had cancelled their celebrations due to the worsening wildfire risk in the oppressive summer heat.
The popular celebrations are expected to attract one million people to Sydney Harbour’s famous foreshore and generate 130 million Australian dollars (£69 million) for the state’s economy. An estimated one billion people worldwide watched last year’s display on television.
Australia’s most populous state has borne the brunt of wildfires that have killed nine people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes across the country in the past few months.
Australia fires MAP: There were calls for the Sydney Fireworks display to be postponed due to the fires
Of the 97 fires burning across New South Wales on Monday, 43 were not yet contained.
A total fire ban was in place in Sydney, Canberra and other places to prevent new fires.
Temperatures on Tuesday were forecast to hit 33C in Sydney, with hotter weather in the western suburbs.
More thick smoke which has continued to cover the city’s iconic landmarks is also expected.
Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said: “Hot air is coming out of the centre of Australia, it’s particularly dry and then, unfortunately, conditions are expected to worsen in New South Wales as we head into Tuesday.”
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said earlier that the fireworks should go ahead to show the world Australia’s resiliency.
However, New South Wales deputy premier John Barilaro had said the world famous display should be called off.
He wrote on social media before the exemption was granted: “The risk is too high and we must respect our exhausted volunteers.”
In the national capital, Canberra, fireworks were cancelled and event organisers said other activities, including live music performances, could also be cancelled.
The capital territory’s emergency services agency commissioner Georgeina Whelan said: “It is a sensible decision for us not to proceed with the fireworks.”