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Australian bushfires send vacationers fleeing in Victoria

By Clyde Hughes
Australian bushfires send vacationers fleeing in Victoria
New South Wales Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW personnel conduct property protection as a bushfire burns in Woodford in November. Fire threats caused thousands of vacationers to flee a Victoria location Monday. Photo by Dan Himbrechts/EPA-EFE

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- About 30,000 Australian vacationers had their stay at a popular tourism designation disrupted this weekend with authorities ordering them to evacuate because of the ongoing bushfires in Victoria on Monday.

The tourists were told to leave a day ahead of time at East Gippsland after Monday was designated as an extreme fire danger day there. Victoria's Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said three fires were burning in the area and would affect the Princes Highway and force its closing.

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"The extreme fire dangers, the strong winds that were forecast, and the very hot temperatures have all come as we thought," Victoria Bureau of Meteorology's Andrew Tupper said.

Authorities put out numerous emergency warnings throughout Victoria, alerting people the fires were putting them in "imminent danger."

"We have been telling people for more than 24 hours East Gippsland is at significant risk," Crisp said Monday. "You should not be on the roads."

One firefighter died and three others transported to a hospital when strong winds connected to a bushfire close to Jingellic forced two vehicles to roll over. That fire burned across the New South Wales and Victoria border on Monday.

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Authorities reported four emergency-level fires in New South Wales while Tasmanian firefighters issued four warnings there. Six Australian states along with the Northern Territory saw temperatures pass 104 degrees.

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