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Dozens of houses destroyed in bushfires after freak storms in Victoria

Bushfires broke out in southeast Australia as temperature hit 104F

Stuti Mishra
Thursday 15 February 2024 15:37 GMT
Taking cover inside store during wild storm in Australia

More than two dozen homes have been destroyed by raging bushfires in the state of Victoria, Australia, with recent storms intensifying the blazes.

Extreme weather hit the state this week exacerbating the fires, authorities confirmed, knocking down trees and power lines. It caused a major power failure in the state with over half a million houses in a blackout.

Still over 60,000 homes across the state remain without power for two days.

The temperature hit 40 degrees Celsius (104F) in the state with two bushfires breaking out on Tuesday.

Fire authorities have confirmed 25 homes were destroyed after bushfires swept through the Grampians National Park this week.

Twenty-four homes were lost at Pomonal town, and one at Dadswells Bridge.

“The town has from all accounts been razed – there is not much left in large parts of Pomonal, so today is going to be an incredibly stressful day for a lot of people,” local MP Emma Kealy said, according to The Age.

The Victorian premier, Jacinta Allan, warned the number of homes lost in the fires could rise as she visited the town on Thursday.

“There is an expectation that number could go up a little ... as the assessments are finalised,” she said.

Workers inspect damaged transmission towers at Anakie in Victoria, Australia (Reuters)

The premier thanked residents for heeding emergency warnings earlier this week and evacuating well ahead of the fire front.

“It could have been so much worse. I want to thank the local community for that very, very strong response. And also to, again, thank all the emergency services, volunteers and workers who have worked around the clock.”

Emergency Management Commissioner Rick Nugent said residents of Pomonal should be able to return to their homes late on Thursday afternoon.

While the threat of fire had eased, he warned the season was not over yet.

“We will have increased weather conditions going forward,” he said.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan (L) and Fire Rescue Victoria incident controller Mark Gunning (R) tour a fire-damaged property at Dadswell Bridge, Victoria, Australia, 15 February 2024 (EPA)

Speaking of power outages, Ms Allan said “there’s obviously still a way to go”, reiterating that most outages were due to storm damage to the transmission system rather than any shortage of supply.

Australia is the most fire-prone country on Earth due to its generally hot and dry climate. Fire services respond to between 45,000 and 60,000 bushfires in Australia each year.

In November, authorities warned that Australia faces an increased risk of bushfires during the summer due to the El Nino weather pattern.

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