SYDNEY, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Australian states of New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, and Tasmania on Tuesday continued to remain on high alert as bushfires kept sprawling under hot and windy conditions.
In Australia's most densely-populated state, 82 fires were burning across NSW as of 9:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday, with 16 not yet contained.
As the maximum temperature was tipped to hit 37 degrees Celsius with gusts in alpine areas likely to peak at 130 km/h, high-to-extreme fire dangers have been forecast across the state.
"There are currently Total Fire Bans declared for the Greater Sydney Region, Greater Hunter, Far South Coast, Northern Slopes, North Western, Upper Central West Plains, Lower Central West Plains, and Central Ranges," NSW Rural Fire Service noted on social media.
Residents in Bermagui, Cuttagee, Barragga Bay, Abernethy, and Elrington received emergency warnings on Tuesday afternoon, which urged them to seek shelter inside a solid structure, as it was "now too late to leave" due to burning blazes nearby.
As for Victoria, challenging fire situations spread rapidly overnight, fueled by hot northerly winds, with households living in the state's east strongly warned by local fire authorities to take shelter indoors immediately.
"This morning, we saw particularly the Briagolong and the Loch Sport fires really move, rapidly grow in size, and affect more communities in the East Gippsland region," Country Fire Authority Chief Officer Jason Heffernan told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
He provided an update about major blazes across Victoria, noting that the impacted area of the Briagolong fire has grown from 5,000 hectares to 17,500 hectares, while the wild flame at Loch Sport expanded from 600 hectares to 3,000 hectares over the last 24 hours.
"There are no more reported losses other than the original house loss that we had when the Briagolong fire first started on Sunday," Heffernan said.
According to the forecast by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), a strong cold front may help tone down fire conditions in eastern parts of Victoria, which would bring highly-anticipated rainfall and cooler temperatures.
But for the Gippsland region which has been enduring days of bushfire threats, the rollercoaster of natural disasters has yet to stop. The weather bureau said a flood watch is current for eastern Victoria for minor to moderate flooding likely from late Tuesday into Wednesday.
"The most significant rainfall totals are expected for Gippsland, where totals may exceed 150 mm in some places," said the BOM.
In the island state of Tasmania, a fire originated from a hotspot in Boat Harbour Creek in Flinders Island and moved rapidly to the east under strong wind on Sunday afternoon, which later sparked an emergency warning for local communities with waterbombing aircraft deployed to contain the flame.
The bushfire warning on Tuesday was downgraded to the "advice" level, given that there is no immediate threat. However, the fire has not been fully under control, and emergency services reminded people to keep up to date with the changeable conditions. ■