Residents, tourists urged to leave Australian region as fire conditions worsen
Residents and holidaymakers in part of the Australian state of Victoria were urged to leave on Sunday ahead of what is expected to be a day of extreme fire danger.
Authorities said temperatures of more than 40 degree Celsius (104 degree Fahrenheit), strong winds, thunderstorms and a wind change moving across the state meant Monday would be one of the most significant fire weather days in Victoria’s history.
State Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp told both residents and tens of thousands of holidaymakers in the East Gippsland region to leave no later than Monday morning.
“What we are saying now, based on the conditions that will be confronting us tomorrow across the state, but in particular in East Gippsland, is that if you’re holidaying in that part of the state, it’s time that you left,” Crisp said at a media conference on Sunday.
“We are asking you to now leave East Gippsland from that area east of Bairnsdale,” Crisp said, referring to a city 280 km (174 miles) east of Melbourne.
“You should not be there tomorrow and we want you to get out now.”
Earlier on Sunday, organizers of a music festival in the state cancelled the event, citing the extreme weather expected on Monday.
“After consultation with local and regional fire authorities and other emergency stakeholders, it is clear that we have no other option,” the organizers wrote on Facebook.
The event was meant to run until New Year’s Eve and some 9,000 people were already camping on site when the announcement was made.
The state of New South Wales (NSW) is also facing severe fire conditions over coming days, with temperatures expecting to peak on Tuesday.
“We’ve got some deteriorating weather conditions over the coming days, particularly Monday and worsening through to Tuesday,” said the NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons.
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