Extensive evacuation underway as bushfires rage in Australia
Australian firefighters warned they were in "uncharted territory" as they struggled to contain more than a dozen out-of-control bushfires across the east of the country on Friday. Around a hundred blazes pockmarked the New South Wales and Queensland countryside, around 15 of them remained dangerous and uncontained late Friday.
Residents forced to flee
Towns were evacuated and hundreds of residents told to flee on Friday as a record number of emergency-level bushfires raged across two Australian states.
50 small blazes burning uncontrollably
The New South Wales Rural Fire service issued warnings for 17 fires, advising people to leave early or to seek shelter. More than 50 smaller blazes also burning out of control.
Many trapped at home
Many people being trapped in their homes, national broadcaster ABC said. "These fires are very dangerous. If you are near these fires, your life is at risk and you need to take action to protect your life," NSW Rural Fire service said.
15 emergency-level fires
By early evening, the number of emergency-level fires had eased to 15 fires simultaneously burning and three fires at that same level burning in Queensland state to the north.
High winds were fanning fires, turning the sky red in the mid-north coastal town of Port Macquarie.
1,000 firefighters battling the blaze
More than 1,000 firefighters and 70 aircraft had been deployed to battle the blaze, fire authorities told the ABC. "It is a very volatile and very dangerous set of circumstances that we are experiencing right across these fire grounds in New South Wales," New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
Queensland: 6,500 told to evacuate
In Queensland, people in several towns including Cooroibah and Tewantin, with a combined population of around 6,500, were told to leave by the state's fire and emergency services. Australia had an early and fierce start to its bushfire season, with an elderly couple killed in a blaze in October.
Australia's worst bushfire season
This is one of Australia's worst bushfire seasons with a record number of emergency warnings and firefighters battling dozens of fires.