More than 100 wildfires burned across Queensland in eastern Australia on Thursday, the second day of evacuations and rapidly changing conditions affecting thousands of people during a sweltering heat wave.
Conditions improved on Thursday, but residents remain in danger as the heat wave is expected to continue for days, said Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland’s premier.
On Wednesday, when there were as many as 190 fires, the government rated the danger “catastrophic” for the first time in the state’s history. Schools were closed and there were scattered reports of property damage, but there were no immediate reports of any deaths.
“What we experienced yesterday was off the charts,” Ms. Palaszczuk said Thursday. “No one has ever recorded these kinds of conditions ever in the history of Queensland.”
In Gracemere, by the eastern coast, residents were ordered to evacuate within hours on Wednesday. They were allowed to return on Thursday after firefighters succeeded in saving the town’s homes.
“Evacuating a town of eight and a half thousand people in just over a couple of hours is pretty extraordinary,” Ms. Palaszczuk said. “Everyone listened, everyone got out, and thankfully everyone is safe.”
“It was just heat and people running up the street and it was just crazy,” said Vicky Crichton, a resident.
As fires spread on Thursday, the Queensland police and fire services used Twitter and Facebook to frequently update residents on the paths of often unpredictable fires. They occasionally instructed residents of certain communities to “LEAVE NOW” or “LEAVE IMMEDIATELY.”
Orignially published in NYT.