Australians leave homes as heat, winds escalate fire danger

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EDEN, Australia (AP) - Thousands of people are fleeing their homes and helicopters are dropping supplies to towns at risk of wildfires as hot, windy conditions threaten already fire-ravaged southeastern Australian communities.

Structures went up in flames in Mallacoota, Victoria, Australia, leaving wreckage. (Source: CNN)

The danger is centered on Australia’s most populous states, including coastal towns that lost homes in earlier fires.

Fire officials say wildfires are holding within containment lines so far, but a strong shift in winds is predicted later.

New South Wales fire official Shane Fitzimmons says, “A long afternoon to go, a long night still to go, for all our firefighters and those affected by the fires."

Communities across Australia’s fire-ravaged southeast are bracing for a long day of mounting danger as thousands abandon their homes for evacuation centers and military helicopters drop emergency supplies to towns at risk of being isolated by blazes fanned by rising winds.

The danger on Friday is centered on New South Wales and Victoria, Australia’s most populous states, where temperatures and wind speeds are escalating after a few days of relatively benign conditions.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has warned that coastal towns south of Sydney could again come under threat, weeks after losing homes to blazes.

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