Australia Wilfire Sends Thousands Running

Australia has been known for various things through the decades. Among them, kangaroos, koalas, “Crocodile Dundee” and the Warner Bros. cartoon “The Tasmanian Devil”, not to mention putting “anotha’ shrimp on the barbie.” As for that last one, it seems nature is supplying more than enough heat, and nobody is seriously thinking of having a barbecue.

Australian authorities say thousands of people have fled wildfires burning their way through southern Australia, with one blaze razing dozens of homes in Tasmania. The fires erupted on Friday amid a record summer heat wave that pushed temperatures beyond 40 degrees Celsius in Tasmania, which is normally known for having a cooler climate.

Tasmania police estimate that as of late Saturday, at least 70 percent of the buildings in and around Dunalley have been destroyed. According to Voice of America, officials are investigating the possible death of one person, but police say that so far no deaths have been confirmed.

Tasmania Acting Police Commissioner Scott Tilyard said:

“There has been significant loss of structures.”

Conditions were expected to calm throughout much of the region on Saturday, but fire officials warned that the fire danger remained high, says ABC News.

Tasmania Fire Service Chief Officer Mike Brown told reporters:

“We reached catastrophic fire danger ratings at times during this afternoon. I don’t think we’re quite out of the woods yet.”

Wildfires are commonplace in the summer months of Australia. In early 2009, hundreds of fires across Victoria state killed 173 people.

Hopefully the heat will die down before the damage gets more severe.