A heat wave in Australia has given way to wildfires on the island of Tasmania, stranding thousands of people and destroying at least 100 homes.

Hundreds of people who fled to beaches for shelter have been evacuated by sea via a flotilla of local vessels that also brought supplies to the stranded. Record-breaking temperatures have combined with high winds and drought to light some 40 separate fires.

The article below does not attempt to deal with the role global warming has played in the likeliness that such a series of fires could erupt, but Australia’s already warm and dry subtropical weather makes it a candidate for destruction as climatic conditions worsen.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


At least 100 properties have been destroyed, a large number in the small community of Dunalley, east of Hobart, where the police station and school were burned down.

One resident of Dunalley told ABC radio: “All I could do was drive the car out of the shed, drive across the other side of the road and stand back and look at the whole place just being engulfed in flames, just like a movie.”

The main road to the Tasman Peninsula, south-east of Hobart, has been cut off, stranding thousands of people, many of them tourists in the historic site of Port Arthur.

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