Bushfires merge to form Australian megablaze covering 2,000 square miles

Three of Australia’s bushfires merged into a monster covering 2,000 square miles last night.

The creation of the megablaze, fanned by strong winds, near the border of New South Wales and Victoria, had been feared for days.

Rural Fire Service captain Ian Pratt said it made access for crews far harder, with many roads now closed.

He said: “It would be nice to put aircraft on it but we just don’t have any available.”

PM Scott Morrison had instructed the military “to stand ready to move and support immediately”.


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However a drop in tem­­peratures, rain storms and a change in wind ­direction last night led to some alerts being downgraded.

In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews feared fires would still be “flaring up for weeks” and Jarrod Hayes, deputy incident controller in the Ovens Valley, north-east of Melbourne, said it would take “significant rainfall” to put them
all out.

Cooler conditions also brought some relief to Kangaroo Island, in South Australia, where 25,000 koalas have died in fires that destroyed 650 square miles and dozens of houses. In all, 28 people have died nationally.


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Meanwhile, thousands of climate change protesters gathered in Sydney and Melbourne, and demanded
a change in government policy, away from a reliance on fossil fuels.

They called for PM Morrison to be sacked and for a policy rethink on climate change.

There was also a protest by Extinction Rebellion outside the Australian embassy in Central London last night.

As Australia rallied to help the victims, a bank paid more than £500,000 at auction for cricket legend Shane Warne’s green cap. The money will go towards bushfire relief.

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