AUSTRALIA’S bushfire crisis significantly worsened Thursday night as two huge terrifying blazes merged to create one giant megafire spanning 1.5 million acres – more than double the size of the UK.
The situation worsens as a number of smaller fires started by lightening strikes are merging into larger infernos amid a 100F heatwave as Australia braces for fresh hell.
The East Ournie Creek and Dunns Road fires near the Victoria border merged into one giant tsunami of flames as Aussie fire services upped the warnings to “watch and act”.
Nearly half a million people were urged to evacuate their homes as military backup was rallied to help battle the two giant bushfires that raged across New South Wales and Victoria.
Earlier it was predicted there could be worse to come with temperatures in Victoria expected to hit 40C (104F) and the state of disaster extended into the weekend.
The Rural Fire Service today warned of “erratic behaviour” as the uncontrollable flames leapt from blaze to blaze, engulfing an obscene amount of land.
A commissioner for the Service today said: “We want people out, into safer places and the maps identify a number of towns and villages where you would better off going for the day and not being in harm’s way”.
There had previously been a brief respite for fire-ravaged communities as a short stretch of cooler weather and rain calmed the blazes earlier this week.
But the mercury again skyrocketed today as dry windy conditions returned across south-eastern Australia.
Firefighters in New South Wales and Victoria worked into the night to keep the fires from reaching communities as fierce winds whipped up the inferno.
PM Scott Morrison said Friday that the military was on standby to help firefighters and emergency agencies.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the extent of any damage from the fires wouldn’t be known until Saturday morning.
He said: “We know it’s going to be a long and difficult night.”
The unprecedented fire crisis in southeast Australia has destroyed more than 2,000 homes and scorched an area twice the size of the US state of Maryland since September.
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Some 1.25billion wild animals have also died in the blazes, conservation group WWF-Australia estimates.
Shocking new figures released this week show how police have arrested 183 people on suspicion of deliberately starting bushfires across the country.
This includes a firefighter who has been charged with starting 17 fires while working with the Darwin River unit in the country’s Northern Territory.
The bushfires have been blamed on widespread drought and record temperatures as New South Wales experienced 50C heat last week[/caption]
One firefighter in Darwin has been accused of deliberately igniting 17 wildfires – but lawyers argue he was actually fighting the blazes he was accused of starting[/caption]