Footage shared on social media by local residents show many Aussies standing on the beaches in complete shock as wild bushfires turn the skies blood-red, ravaging their community and destroying their homes in a matter of minutes.
— Alastair Prior (@alastairprior) December 31, 2019
— Zack (@z_p1ngu) December 31, 2019
"We've got literally hundreds, thousands of people up and down the coast, taking refuge on the beaches," Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service, told the BBC, stressing that current development marks “the worst fire season we have experienced here in NSW.”
While some have opted to stay put on beaches, other residents have fled on boats to escape the ever-growing reaches of the blazes.
— Helen Davidson (@heldavidson) December 31, 2019
View this post on Instagram
A last-ditch option for business owner David Jeffrey and a few locals is to jump into the sea, he told the BBC. “There’s a rock wall that they’ve built to keep back the sea, and that was where we were going to jump into the water if the radiant heat had hit,” Jeffrey said.
“It looks a lot like Armageddon. It’s terrifying.”
Recently shared footage proved that even trained first responders were encountering some difficulties with the growing bushfires. Video shows one unit with the NSW Fire and Rescue department becoming entrapped in their vehicle as they tried to bypass a massive fire.
— Fire and Rescue NSW (@FRNSW) December 31, 2019
A follow-up tweet from the department later confirmed that all crew members were OK after they made it past the bushfire.
At present, more than 130 fires are burning across New South Wales and Victoria, and Australian authorities are unsure as to when the blazes will be contained; however, reports have noted that a change in wind direction has helped to prevent further destruction of buildings in Mallacoota.
According to Victorian news outlet The Age, more than 115 communities have been kept under emergency warnings on Tuesday. In some cases, residents have been told to shelter in place, as it was determined to be too dangerous to seek safety elsewhere.
— Luke Henriques-Gomes (@lukehgomes) December 31, 2019
The Australian government has indicated that the Australian Defense Force will be sending military aircraft, such as Black Hawk and Chinook choppers, and naval vessels to Victoria and New South Wales to help battle the blazes.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told residents in a Tuesday address that the government would “continue [the support] for as long as it is needed.”
— Lee Crockford (@LeeCrockford) December 31, 2019
At last count, the bushfire-related death toll stood at 12, with the two recent deaths being those of a father and son who stayed behind to protect their New South Wales home.