More than 100 homes lost in Australia's Christmas Day bushfires
Updated: 2015-12-28 09:43
A bushfire burns at Wye River near Lorne, south of Melbourne, Dec 25, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
MELBOURNE - More than 100 homes burned down in a leading Australian tourist area in bushfires on Christmas Day and the situation remained dangerous on Saturday, as officials predicted more blazes to come later in the hot southern summer.
While around 500 firefighters and 13 firefighting aircraft battled the flames along parts of Victoria state's picturesque Great Ocean Road, teams moved in to assess damage from fires that had lit up the night sky along the coast on Christmas.
A spokesman for the state's emergency services said 98 homes had been confirmed burned in the community of Wye River and another 18 in nearby Separation Creek, for a total of 116 in the two townships, located about 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Melbourne.
Top emergency officials warned that dry conditions posed a threat of more fires for the Great Ocean Road area and the rest of Victoria.
"This fire doesn't go away," Craig Lapsley, the state's emergency services commissioner, told a news conference.
"We will be back into hot, windy weather in January without a doubt. Everything's available to burn."
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia's biggest tourist draws with its spectacular scenery and unusual offshore rock formations. It remained mostly closed to traffic on Saturday during what is typically one of its busiest times of the year.