Heat and winds are threatening to widen Australia’s bushfire crisis, with two states warned to expect their worst conditions of the season so far.
Soaring temperatures in South Australia prompted “catastrophic” alerts – the highest danger rating – on Wednesday.
Residents near the Port Wakefield Highway at Port Wakefield and Yorketown on the lower Eyre Peninsula are being warned they are in danger.
Fires in South Australia prompted emergency warnings on Wednesday as temperatures neared 45C (113F) in parts of the state. Winds of up to 90km/h (55mph) exacerbated the threat.
Officials switched off electricity to about 10,000 homes and businesses to reduce the risk of new fires breaking out.
“All areas of the state are in danger today, with the potential for fires which do start to be uncontrollable by fire crews,” a Country Fire Service spokeswoman told media.
Tasmania is also predicted to see its worst conditions yet on Thursday, though its forecast is less extreme.
Six people have died since last month in massive bushfires which are burning elsewhere in the country.
A Watch and Act warning has been issued for the Stott Highway at Angaston in the Barossa and residents at Price on the upper Yorke Peninsula.
Residents in there areas are advised to take action now as the bushfire may threaten safety.
“If you are not prepared, leave now and if the path is clear, go to a safer place,” the CFS said.
The CFS says conditions are continually changing.
Those blazes – in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland – have destroyed more than 500 houses and prompted debates on the impacts of drought and climate change.
The southern state has endured its driest first nine months of any year on record, said Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. No significant rainfall is forecast for the coming months.
In NSW and Queensland, officials warned that heat from the centre of the country could escalate blazes later in the week.
Scientists and experts say that Australia’s fire season has grown longer and more intense due to climate change.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, climate change had led to an increase in extreme heat events and raised the severity of other natural disasters, such as drought.