Australians seeking shelter from the wildfires ravaging the east coast have posted photos on social media of a blood red sky late in the early hours of the morning.
In the town of Mallacoota, Victoria, a woman known as Doreen from the Country Fire Authority posted a red-saturated photo at 2.30am and said: “My oldest in this photo somewhere. He called to say he won’t be home tomorrow: ‘shit hits the fan, we’re bunkered down at the school’.
“He doesn’t want me to worry. The whole of Australia’s worried.”
The red haze is caused by the glare of the fires, which authorities fear will intensify as weather conditions deteriorate.
During the day, thick plumes of smoke obscured sunlight and turned the sky black around 4.35pm, according to a journalist based in Tasmania.
Holly Corbett posted two photos sent to her by her sister-in-law in Cooma, NSW. The first was of a dark red sky and the second, taken 15 minutes after the first, was nearly pitch black.
“Simply terrifying,” she said.
Authorities say heat and smoke from the relentless blazes are creating their own weather systems, including dry lightning storms and fire tornadoes.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) warned on Saturday a fire on the coast had generated a thunderstorm.
“This is a very dangerous situation. Monitor the conditions around you and take appropriate action,” it said.
NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said: “There are a number of fires that are coming together – very strong, very large, intense fires that are creating some of these fire-generated thunderstorms.
“And unfortunately, we’ve still got many hours to go of these elevated and dangerous conditions.”
A fire tornado on Monday generated winds strong enough to flip a 10-tonne fire truck, killing a RFS firefighter who was inside.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies