Australian firefighters battle bushfires in suburban Melbourne

Australian firefighters battle bushfires in suburban Melbourne

It is the third death of a volunteer firefighter since the fires broke out in October.

A video posted on social media site Facebook showed tourist Nicholas Costanzo escaping from the Victorian bushfire on a narrow two-way road dotted with fire trucks as thick smoke blurred vision.

On Monday, locals living in the Australian state of Victoria were told to leave their homes as soaring temperatures and strong winds continued to threaten the area.

Temperatures on Tuesday are expected to hit 33 degrees Celsius (91 Fahrenheit) in Sydney, with hotter weather in the western suburbs.

On Sunday, the Australian government announced it would start compensating the volunteer firefighters now fighting the bushfires, with payments of up to 6,000 Australian dollars (€3,750).

Victoria Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said the worst could be ahead.

It's hoped a cool weather change forecast to sweep Victoria from the west overnight will give the state some relief after a fire-ravaged day, but there's also a chance it could worsen conditions.

Many tourists appeared to heed the warning to flee Victoria state's East Gippsland region, an area popular with tourists that encompasses two national parks, lakes and coastal plains that is half the size of Belgium.

Emergency services had encouraged residents and holiday-makers on Sunday to leave East Gippsland, where two out-of-control bushfires merged early on Monday morning.

More than a dozen blazes are raging in the East Gippsland countryside, some so intensely that hundreds of firefighters were pulled back beyond a firefront estimated to stretch 1,000km.

It was deemed "unsafe" for them to remain in bushland areas, Gippsland fire incident controller Ben Rankin said, describing the situation as "very intense".

A Rural Fire Service firefighter protects a property from the Currowan fire on the NSW South Coast before Christmas.

Brenton Eden, from the Country Fire Service, said it would be a "very risky, quot; day for people in the state, as the lightning already caused a series of fires".

There is a risk of dry lightning, as well as strong, gusty winds as a mass of hot air settles over the state.

New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who represents a rural district affected by drought and fire, said on Twitter on Monday the headline Sydney event should be canceled.

Mr McPaul was killed while two others suffered burns. Of the 97 fires burning across New South Wales on Monday, 43 were not yet contained.

The bushfires have made Sydney and other major cities experience toxic smoke for weeks.

NSWRFS confirms that a volunteer firefighter has died this evening near Jingellic. "Council was not granted an exemption to proceed with its fireworks display, due to the total fire ban in place and a range of associated risks", Mayor Bob Dwyer said Monday.

It is the latest emergency in Australia's devastating summer fire season, which has been turbocharged by a prolonged drought and climate change.

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