AUSTRALIA: Fire crews facing dual threat as winds fan blazes
Update: Friday 13 Feb. the fires are now under control, with ongoing careful management, and support from federal police and the army.
Fire crews facing dual threat as winds fan blazes
Posted 6 hours 29 minutes ago
Updated 2 hours 53 minutes ago
Crews continue to battle more than a dozen fires across Victoria. (AFP: Torsten Blackwood)
- Video: Fears fires may merge (ABC News)
- Video: Livestock losses to top 10,000 (ABC News)
- Map: Alexandra 3714
- Related Story: New fire threat for Vic crews
- Related Story: Vic police closing in on arson suspect
Fires crews are worried major blazes burning out of control near Melbourne will merge to create one huge fire front.
Three thousand firefighters continue to battle more than a dozen fires across Victoria. Authorities fear two large blazes near the Yarra ranges east of Melbourne may join together, fanned by strong winds.
If that was to happen, Melbourne's water catchment area could be affected. An urgent threat message remains in place for areas north of the Yea-Murrindindi fire.
CFA Operations Manager David Harrison says people need to be aware of the dangers, and be prepared.
"At the moment I don't have any advice that actual properties are under imminent threat," he said.
Four days after many towns were razed, the Salvation Army is scrambling to find alternative accommodation for thousands of people who have been left homeless. More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed.
Rescue crews and victim identification teams expect to find more bodies as they trawl through the devastation, with 181 people confirmed dead so far.
As the huge relief effort is rolled out, 150 detectives are in the worst-affected areas trying to track down arsonists whom they believe are responsible for some of the fires.
New Zealand firefighters will fly to Victoria on Friday to assist local crews in containment efforts in fire-hit areas.
Six police officers who are part of New Zealand's disaster victim identification team will arrive in Melbourne tonight.
The officers worked in Thailand following the Boxing Day Tsunami and say they are expecting things will be just as tough.
Meanwhile, more than $40 million has been raised for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.
Australian Red Cross chief executive Robert Tickner says the community is showing great generosity.
"Australians from all walks of life, from cities and the bush are coming together on this and it just exemplifies this power of humanity that underpins Red Cross beliefs," he said.
And United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has issued a statement expressing his condolences for the victims of the bushfires and their families.
Mr Ban says he is deeply saddened by the deaths and the injuries of hundreds of Australians.