Wildfires continue to spread in New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, and South Australia (SA) states on Thursday, January 9. In Victoria, officials issued new evacuation orders for communities in northeastern parts of the state. Emergency warnings are in place for Bobinawarrah, Carboor, Kneebones Gap, Whorouly, Whorouly East and Whorouly South, and south of Wangaratta. Strong winds and high temperatures are forecast in Victoria through Friday, January 10, and may set off fast moving fires throughout the state. The Bureau of Meteorology has issued an extreme fire danger warning for northern parts of the state for Friday.
In SA, residents on Kangaroo Island have also received evacuation notices. Officials ordered residents of Vivonne Bay on the southern coast to relocate to either Kingscote or Penneshaw. Authorities warned that the weather on Kangaroo Island on Thursday is highly likely to cause breakouts along the current fire perimeter. Outbreaks at Deep Creek Gully, Bark Hut, and Yerda remain out of control and may spread. All roads on the western side of the island are closed and further closures are possible depending on how the fire moves.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) warned on Thursday that strong winds and high temperatures are expected to return to the state on Friday and it will be difficult to predict how it will impact the fires. As of Thursday morning (local time), there are 122 bushfires ongoing in the state and over 2500 fire fighters have deployed to NSW.
A heightened security presence, road closures, telecommunication disruptions, and power outages are to be expected in the vicinity of any wildfire. Up-to-date information on the fires in NSW can be found here, in SA here, and in Victoria here.
Over 10.3 million hectares (25.5 million acres) of land have been burned, and at least 2000 houses destroyed since the wildfires broke out on October 9. At least 26 people have also died in the region as of January 9. Authorities have indicated that the fires were due to high temperatures and droughts.
Wildfires are an annual event in Australia between December and February; however, authorities have been on high alert since September 2015 over unseasonably warm temperatures, prompting scientists to speculate that climate change could be extending and increasing the intensity of the fire season.
Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, keep abreast of warnings, anticipate transportation and power disruptions, and adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities, notably evacuation orders.