Dozens of homes have been destroyed by fire in Australia’s southeast, although there have been no reports of injuries.
The worst hit is the New South Wales seaside town of Tathra, where more than 70 homes and businesses have been severely damaged or destroyed.
Many residents were evacuated to Bega, a town around 10 miles away.
The fire burnt some buildings to the ground while leaving their neighbours unscathed, showing its unpredictability.
While firefighters and residents have saved many homes in #Tathra, a number have been destroyed. The exact number won’t be known for some time when Building Impact Assessment teams can get into the area. The fire has burnt right to the coast under strong winds. #nswrfs #nswfires pic.twitter.com/CARce7Ok2m
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) March 18, 2018
Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told ABC Radio Sydney: “The wind is like a blowtorch effect to wherever that ember lands in, and it ignites very quickly and fire spreads very rapidly.
“When it’s in and around buildings and people’s homes, the devastation and destruction is obvious, and it’s awful.”
Mr Fitzsimmons said winds in Bega of 50-70km/h and gusts of up to 90km/h also spread the fire “very rapidly”.
More than 100 firefighters and three aircraft were working on the fire on Monday but many of the fires are now under control and there have been no serious injuries reported.
The fires come amid record temperatures in the late 30s along the New South Wales coast, with Ulladulla and Albion Park, further north, hitting 38C and 39.5C respectively.
Meanwhile, 18 homes have been destroyed by several fires in the neighbouring state of Victoria.
At one point, up to 40 towns were on alert for the numerous blazes on farmland around Camperdown, Warrnambool and Hamilton.
Victorian Emergency Services Minister James Merlino said most of the fires were started by lightning but investigators would make “a full determination”.
Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley told the ABC: “(The fires) still have hot spots in them and we still have wind, but nowhere near the wind speeds over the last 24 hours.”
Tony Murphy from Emergency Management Victoria said the SES told radio station 3AW: “We’re so ecstatic about the fact no one has died.
“We’ve really brought these things to the ground really quickly.”