MOSCOW, January 3 (Sputnik) – Thousands have fled their homes, as several major wildfires are raging across Southern Australia in what officials are calling the worst fires since 1983, the Guardian reports.
Up to 2,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, with more than a dozen aircraft dumping water onto the fires. Firefighters are struggling and said it could take “days to get the situation under control”. Dry conditions, temperatures as high as 40C, and ghastly winds fanning the flames are aggravating the already grave situation, the Guardian said.
Residents in Adelaide Hills, South Australia, are experiencing the worst of the fires, where flames have destroyed five homes and put hundreds of others in danger, said Daniel Hamilton, a spokesperson for South Australia Country Fire Service, the Guardian reported.
Residents of 19 other communities are also at risk, as a predicted shift in the winds later on Saturday could further intensify the flames. The state has declared a major emergency and told residents to leave, as their lives were at risk.
“If you have decided to stay the fire could become incredibly scary and it could make you change your mind and leave. It could be a catastrophic decision to leave late.” – said South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill.
Although Australia faces wildfires every year, this year has seen the outbreak of the largest bushfires in the state of South Australia since 1983. Environmentalists say global warming is making the wildfires worse and more frequent, the BBC said.
The 1983 disaster killed more than 70 people in South Australia and Victoria and destroyed thousands of homes and buildings. In 2009, the devastating "Black Saturday" wildfires killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes in Victoria, Deutsche Welle reported.