Thousands flee to beaches amid devastating Australian wildfires

Brendan Morrow

Thousands of Australians were forced to flee to beaches on Tuesday as wildfires continued to blaze in New South Wales and Victoria.

About 4,000 people sought refuge on nearby beaches in the town of Mallacoota in Victoria, with thousands along the New South Wales coast needing to evacuate their homes, CNN reports. Fires have been raging in Australia for the past several months, and 70 new fires reportedly started in Victoria on Monday, while more than 60 fires haven't yet been contained in New South Wales.

"It was like we were in hell," a vacationer in New South Wales told CNN. "We were all covered in ash."

"It should have been daylight but it was black like midnight and we could hear the fire roaring," a local business owner in Mallacoota told BBC News. "We were all terrified for our lives."

After the death of a father and son in Cobargo, at least 11 people have died amid Australia's devastating fire season, during which more than 900 homes have been destroyed in New South Wales, The New York Times reports. Victoria Emergency Services Commissioner Andrew Crisp said there have been "significant" property losses, The Associated Press reports.

Australian military aircraft and vessels will assist in the emergency services, BBC News reports, and the United States and Canada have also been asked to help in the effort. CNN reports that weather conditions are expected to improve in the next 24 hours before worsening by the end of the week, again "bringing dangerous fire conditions."

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