Thousands of people who are trapped on the beach of a Victorian coastal holiday town are being told to go into the water as a devastating bushfire closes in.
Authorities believe more than 4000 people are still stuck at Mallacoota, in the state’s far east, which was hit by fire about 8.30am on Tuesday.
There are four people unaccounted for and ‘significant losses’ to property in the East Gippsland region, and two people confirmed dead in New South Wales with another feared dead as a blaze tears through the state’s south coast.
In Mallacoota, the sky turned an eerie shade of black in the morning before transforming into a deep red, with residents reporting ‘hot embers’ falling from the sky and a deafening ‘roar’ as the fire approached.
Residents heard gas bottles exploding as the fire edged closer to the town.
‘It was pitch black up until two minutes ago and now half the sky is red, embers are dropping out of the sky,’ resident Mark told ABC about 10am.
‘They’re right next to the water, however there is also a fire pump that is using water from the lake.’
Nervous people who took to social media as they stood on the town’s pier in life jackets said they were waiting for a signal that meant they should ‘get down to the water and get underwater’.
By midday many people were still waiting on the beach and jetty. One person at the wharf reported the fire was within 300m.
A handful of houses could be seen alight by 2pm but authorities claim the fire in the main CBD is being held back.
Emergency sirens have been sounding at the town, and the fire threatening the town has burnt more than 72,000 hectares.
Clifton Creek Primary school has been wiped out by a bushfire in East Gippsland, 20-minutes from Bairnsdale, with all of the building reduced to rubble as a result of the blaze.
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Source: Daily Mail