Forest fires send Australians “fleeing for their lives”

Forest fires send Australians “fleeing for their lives”

23 December 2009

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Australia — Port Lincoln residents were ‘fleeing for their lives’ Wednesday as an out-of-control forest fire bore down on the south-coast Australian town famous for its tuna fishing industry.

At least six houses burned down as a 7-kilometre fire front reached to within 2 kilometres of the town centre.

The blaze is being fanned by 65-kilometre-per-hour winds. With temperatures expected to top 42 degrees Celsius, south coast residents have been warned that this week could see forest fringes turned into death zones for those defying evacuation orders.

‘I’d just like to say to people who are out there on the roads and blocking the roads, people like me are fleeing for our lives, you know,’ a resident identified as Ray told public broadcaster ABC.

He said he fully expected to have lost his home.

The Country Fire Service (CFS) warned of ‘catastrophic risk’ and slapped a fire ban on the whole state of South Australia.

CFA chief Euan Ferguson urged those in fire-prone areas to leave early rather than wait until they saw flames.

‘This is not a fake warning,’ Ferguson said. ‘In all of South Australia conditions will be such that if a fire escapes our initial attack, then that fire will develop into a very large fire very quickly.’

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