Hundreds of buildings and thousands of homes have been lost in the worst fires in Australia’s history
Hundreds of houses and thousands of properties have been lost in the worst bushfires in Australia’s history, as fires raged across a vast area in southern Queensland, as well as in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.
So far, at least five deaths have been recorded.
Markets across the country have been closed in mourning, and tributes poured in from around the world.
Fires in both Victoria and Tasmania are still being suppressed, but Victoria released new figures on Thursday afternoon showing a combined total of 136,000 hectares burnt and 422 homes destroyed since the fire threat began on Saturday.
Despite the destruction, the fires have not touched the state’s capital city, Melbourne, and were unlikely to, according to firefighters, as it does not lie in the region. The most populous place in the state is the cities of Ballarat and the Latrobe Valley, further north.
There are no estimates of the losses suffered by the wider community, but a warning of worse losses is likely.
No infrastructure including buildings and water networks were damaged, but temporary shelters for people evacuated from their homes are full.
Fires in South Australia have now left one person dead and destroyed more than 30 homes, with fears that more could be lost as they struggle to contain them.
The total area burnt over the last week is believed to be nearly 900,000 hectares, according to emergency authorities.
With an estimated population of around 8.5 million people, this is the worst bushfire season Australia has ever seen.
Fires have blackened 12,000 hectares of land in Tasmania, which covers two-thirds of the island state.
Numerous fires are burning, with five large fires still burning, with the southern part of the state expected to see some fire activity and not just in southern Tasmania.
While four deaths have been recorded, a further 21 people have been treated for their injuries in hospitals throughout the week. Two of those have died, as is now occurring across all states.
Fires spread rapidly over hot, dry weather. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service said the fire season is “about to reach an epicentre”, with fires expected to enter Sydney in the coming days.
NSW State secretary Brett Holmes said there were 300 firefighters on the ground in the state, with more than 150 in the Sydney area.
The total cost of the cost of fighting the fires across the country has not been revealed.
Large parts of Australia’s southern border remained on Thursday closed to the public and beyond. The Daily Telegraph reported that 45,000 properties were under threat in Victoria, and 50,000 properties in South Australia, with officials saying they could be burnt down “very, very quickly”.
The Australian government has sent disaster relief packages of food, water and emergency supplies to southern Australia.
Hospitals have been on alert after the death of another person in the Great Ocean Road region of Victoria.
In South Australia, large parts of the state’s east coast are on high alert, with the Oodnadatta Track and Roxby Downs a focal point.