This week's fires in Australia have destroyed at least 381 homes in NSW and 43 in Victoria, but officials say that number will grow.
„You need to leave before this Saturday," the NSW Rural Fire Service said, referring to a 260km (160 miles) stretch of coast. Officials fear a dangerous forecast for Saturday will once again threaten lives and homes. Two regions of Western Australia (WA) face catastrophic fire danger on Thursday, and parts of South Australia are expected to see extreme conditions on Friday. In Mallacoota, Victoria, thousands fled to the beach on Tuesday. Police brought water, food and medical supplies into Mallacoota by boat. A navy boat was expected to begin evacuating people who have been cut off from roads. Prime Minister Scott Morrison repeated his calls to people not to panic and to trust emergency workers.
"I understand the fear that is there for many and the frustration, but this is a natural disaster, and natural disasters are best dealt with through the methodical, well-coordinated response that we are seeing today," he told. The smoke from Wednesday's fires was visible from the South Island of New Zealand, more than 2,000km (1,200 miles) away. Since September, Australia's bushfire crisis has killed 18 people and destroyed more than 1,200 homes.