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Homes lost to bushfires as Australia's Victoria lashed by extreme heat, winds

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-23 15:48
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A supplied image shows smoke from a bushfire near the town of Beaufort, west of Ballarat, Victoria, February 22, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

SYDNEY -- Authorities confirmed on Friday that property losses were reported in the Australian state of Victoria, as extreme heat and blustery conditions fanned up bushfires, especially in the state's west.

"Now we are sadly hearing reports of property loss that are starting to come through given the active nature of the fire and the difficult terrain in the area," Premier of Victoria Jacinta Allan said at the State Control Center.

Thursday saw an out-of-control bushfire at Bayindeen Rocky Road sprawling to nearby communities.

As of Friday morning, the fire has burnt over 11,000 hectares in size, while two emergency warnings related to the blaze are currently in place, urging residents to leave immediately before conditions become too dangerous.

According to Allan, one relief center was established overnight at Princess Park in Maryborough, with two others set up earlier in Wendouree and Ararat, respectively. The relief center at Wendouree had around 200 people register to get access to support.

She also noted that between Ballarat and Ararat, the Western highway and train line remain closed, while crews on the ground are working to reopen the services in the coming hours.

"There are also around 5,000 properties that are without power across the state. Many of those are a consequence of yesterday's strong heat and wind," the premier added.

Joining Allan at the press conference, Chief Officer of Country Fire Authority Jason Heffernan reported that Thursday saw extreme fire dangers for the western part of Victoria.

The chief officer underlined that one home was confirmed lost, but there would likely to be more reports of property losses, as the impact assessment progressed.

"As with the damage impact assessment teams, fire investigators are now making access to where we believe to be the point of origin to make those determinations. At the moment, the cause of the fire is undetermined," said Heffernan.

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