Christmas Day Wildfire Destroys More Than 100 Homes In Southern Australia

December 26, 2015

Fast-moving wildfires on Christmas day destroyed more than 100 homes in southern Australia. Now, residents and officials in Victoria State are beginning to assess the scale of the damage and firefighters work to contain the still-raging fires.

Victoria State’s Premier Daniel Andrews told the BBC that the scale of the damage is not yet clear. “Today’s really assessment day,” he says, including “assessing damage to property, the safety of roads, power, water, environmental issues.”

This fire was caused by a lighting strike, The Associated Press reported, and caused thousands to flee their homes on Christmas say.

An aerial video from Australia’s ABC news gives a sense of the damage to these communities southwest of Melbourne, showing charred homes and mangled debris on coastal hillsides.

ABC reports that the fire destroyed 116 properties on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, most of which were holiday homes. “The Insurance Council of Australia estimates the losses to be worth $38 million [27.5 million U.S. dollars] and it is expected that the number will increase as claims are made,” ABC reported.

The Australian government will provide grants of $1,300 to people who have lost or are unable to access their homes, ABC says.

The fire is not yet under control, ABC reported. “”It’s been an exceptionally dry year with the El Nino event, and the worst fire conditions will probably be seen in January and February, and that’s why we’re working really hard to consolidate this fire now,” firefighter Mark Gunning told ABC.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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