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In Australia Wildfires, Scenes Of Smoke, Sparks And Chaos

On December 31, 2019 firefighters struggled against the strong wind in an effort to secure nearby houses from bushfires near the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales.

Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images


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Wildfires are a regular occurrence in Australia, but on New Year’s Eve, residents of the state of New South Wales experienced blazes stronger and more destructive than they had in years. In several of the southeastern towns, smoke blocked out the sky, houses were destroyed, and thousands of tourists and locals were forced to flee to nearby beaches. Seven people have died so far, and several others are unaccounted for.

It’s still unclear how long the fires will last or what the extent of the damage will be. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service, made up of 74,000 volunteers, predicts that conditions will remain unsafe through the weekend. But that doesn’t mean things will clear up anytime soon; fire season in Australia’s southeast, where it’s currently summer, lasts for months. The most recent fires are coming after weeks of strong winds, record-breaking heat and years of drought in parts of the country.

Images from the fires capture sparks flying, ravaged buildings, smoke and glowing red as far as the eye can see. Here are some of the most striking scenes of the destruction so far.

The remains of burnt out buildings are seen along main street in the New South Wales town of Cobargo on December 31, 2019, after bushfires ravaged the town. Thousands of holidaymakers and locals were forced to flee to beaches in fire-ravaged southeast Australia.

Sean Davey/AFP via Getty Images


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Firefighters hose down the area as they battle against bushfires around the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales on December 31, 2019.

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A firefighter walks past burning trees during a battle against bushfires around the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales on December 31, 2019.

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A house and van are seen destroyed after bushfires ravaged the town of Bilpin, 70 km west of Sydney on December 29, 2019.

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Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters are seen as they try to protect homes around Charmhaven, New South Wales. Wildfires burning across Australia’s two most-populous states Tuesday trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions, destroyed many properties and caused fatalities.

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New South Wales Rural Fire Service/AP

Amy (L) and Ben Spencer sit at the showgrounds in the southern New South Wales town of Bega where they are camping after being evacuated from nearby sites affected by bushfires on December 31, 2019.

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A fire burns from back-burning as firefighters prepare ahead of a fire front in the New South Wales town of Jerrawangala on January 1, 2020. A major operation to reach thousands of people stranded in fire-ravaged seaside towns was under way in Australia on January 1.

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Firefighters hose down trees as they battle against bushfires around the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales on December 31, 2019.

Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images


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Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images

A horse tries to move away from nearby bushfires at a residential property near the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales on New Year’s Eve.

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Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images

The remains of burnt out buildings are seen along main street in the New South Wales town of Cobargo on December 31, 2019, after bushfires ravaged the town.

Sean Davey/AFP via Getty Images


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Sean Davey/AFP via Getty Images

In this Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, photo, NSW Rural Fire Service crew fight the Gospers Mountain Fire as it impacts a property at Bilpin, New South Wales state, Australia.

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Dan Himbrechts/AP

A fire burns from back burning as firefighters prepare ahead of a fire front in the New South Wales town of Jerrawangala on January 1, 2020. A major operation to reach thousands of people stranded in fire-ravaged seaside towns was under way in Australia on January 1.

Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images


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Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images

Source: NPR