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Wildfires are burning out of control in southeastern Australia.
Thousands of people have already fled their homes but some have waited too long.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has advised those who have not evacuated areas at risk that, “It is too late to leave. Seek shelter as the fire approaches.”
Australia Calls up 3,000 Reservists as Fire Threats Escalate
In recent days, ‘we have seen this disaster escalate to an entirely new level,’ Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said
Late Saturday evening, Victoria had 14 fires rated at emergency or evacuation warning levels, while New South Wales, home to more than 100 fires, had 11 emergency fires.
CNN reported that fire officials said Saturday three fires combined overnight in Victoria and are now larger than Manhattan in New York City.
Army reservists have been called in to assist the firefighters. Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said this is the first time the reservists have been called up to help combat fires “in living memory and, in fact, I believe for the first time in our nation’s history.”
‘Millions of Sparks’: Weather Raises Australia’s Fire Danger
Navy ships plucked hundreds of people from beaches and tens of thousands were urged to flee before hot weather and strong winds in the forecast worsen Australia’s already-devastating wildfires
Andy Gillham, the incident controller in the Victorian town of Bairnsdale, told Reuters that this has been an exceptional fire season.
“In a normal year, we would start to see the fire season kick off in a big way around early January and we’re already up towards a million hectares of burnt country. This is a marathon event and we expect to be busy managing these fires for at least the next eight weeks,” he said.