Australia bushfires: towns face anxious wait as strong winds drive fires

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Thousands of climate protesters flooded the streets of Australian state capitals on Friday night as fire authorities warned of another dangerous night ahead in four states.

Firefighters in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia continued to battle fires, with gusty winds expected to create hazardous firefighting conditions late into the night.

A male firefighter in his 20s suffered burns to his face, ears and hands in the Snowy Valley region where fierce winds were pushing the fires in different direction.

Temperatures reached above 40C in some parts of NSW during the day, and strong south-westerly winds with gusts of up to 90km/h were expected to move up the coast later in the night, the Bureau of Meteorology said.“The change is critical,” the BoM’s Graham Reader said. “The winds really peak around the change and the directions shift is very sharp and particularly gusty.”

The change was not expected to reach Sydney until early on Saturday morning.

By 8pm on Friday, fire authorities in NSW and Victoria had started to issue emergency warnings as southerly winds fanned the fires.

In Victoria, 21 fires were burning out of control by late afternoon, with more than 1.3m hectares burned so far this bushfire season. On Friday afternoon the state’s premier, Daniel Andrews, said 286 residential properties had been damaged or destroyed in the state.
Victorians to evacuation orders and other warnings.

“People have, by and large, followed the advice given, and that is one of the reasons why I’m able to say to you tonight, despite this unprecedented fire activity, we have nobody who is unaccounted for, we have no further people that have died, and we have no further communities that have been cut off.”

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