In Australia, Mass Evacuations Ordered As Wildfires Burn Entire Region
“Columns of fire” in a popular tourist area of southeastern Australia forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people on Monday, according to NBC News.
Dangerous wildfires have plagued the region for weeks, fueled by extreme heat and high winds. Victoria state's East Gippsland, which encompasses “two national parks, lakes and coastal plains that is half the size of Belgium,” was on high alert, with tourists warned to steer clear of the roads due to “thick smoke and unpredictable, fast-moving fires,” the news outlet reported.
Officials also warned those on holiday that it was now too late for anyone who had not left the region to do so safely.
Victoria state's Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said "columns of fire" were in play, generating their own dangerous weather systems: "There's lightning coming out of these columns. It is unpredictable, it's dangerous out there."
More than 9.9 million acres of land have been destroyed by bushfires in recent weeks, NBC reported, and at least eight deaths have resulted from the devastation.