Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Authorities issued new evacuation orders Friday for a quarter-million people in southeast Australia due to an advancing "megafire," officials said.
Fire danger is threatening homes in Victoria and fire officials issued a disaster declaration for East Gippsland Shire, Mansfield Shire, Wellington Shire, Wangaratta Rural Shire, Towong Shire and Alpine Shire through Saturday.
Officials said two large fires have merged into a "megafire" straddling New South Wales and Victoria. It has burned 1.5 million acres so far, they said.
Crews in C-130 tankers are dropping retardant and helicopters delivered supplies to areas that could be isolated by the fires.
Strong winds and hot temperatures are aiding the flames. Friday, temperatures in the region neared 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
WWF Australia has said the fires have killed more than 1 billion animals over the last few months, including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, kookaburras, cockatoos and honeyeaters.
Activists staged protests in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra Friday, demanding that Prime Minister Scott Morrison do more to lessen Australia's dependence on fossil fuels and fight climate change.
Morrison, who vacationed in Hawaii recently during the unprecedented fire damage, said Friday he's called in the military to support firefighters.
"I've given them very clear instructions that they are to stand ready to move and support immediately," Morrison said.