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The Australian navy on Friday began the evacuations of some of the thousands of people stranded on the east coast of the fire-ravaged country as a searing weather front was set to whip up more blazes across the states of Victoria and New South Wales.

At the peak of the summer holiday period, tens of thousands of vacationers were urged to leave national parks and tourist areas on the NSW south coast and eastern areas of Victoria before a return of temperatures above 40 degrees and strong winds on Saturday.

Traffic out of Bateman’s Bay, a popular holiday spot on the NSW south coast, was less busy than on Wednesday and Thursday, with many people having heeded the directives to leave the area before the weekend.

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Victoria declared a state of disaster for the first time, giving authorities broad powers to compel people to leave their properties and take control of services, similar to the state of emergency that has been declared in NSW.

AUSTRALIA FIRES

Data as of Thursday, Jan. 2, 9:00 a.m. ET

Hotspots for the past 24 hours

Evacuation zones

Banda Sea

Coral Sea

NT

AUSTRALIA

WA

QLD

SA

NSW

Sydney

Great Australian

Bight

VIC

Melbourne

0

450

KM

TAS

Evacuation zones:

State government of New South Wales has declared a state of emergency and has urged a mass exodus from several towns on the southeast coast

Nowra

Canberra

Batlow

Batemans Bay

Cabramurra

Moruya

Badja

Greg Greg

Narooma

Belowra

Kosciuszko

National Park

Cobargo

Bega

Merimbula

Eden

Wonboyn

Mallacoota

Cann River

0

30

Bemm River

KM

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:

TILEZEN; OSM CONTRIBUTORS; NEW SOUTH WALES

GOVERNMENT; NASA

AUSTRALIA FIRES

Data as of Thursday, Jan. 2, 9:00 a.m. ET

Hotspots for the past 24 hours

Evacuation zones

PAPUA NEW

GUINEA

Banda Sea

Coral Sea

NT

AUSTRALIA

WA

QLD

SA

NSW

Sydney

Great Australian

Bight

VIC

Melbourne

0

450

TAS

KM

Evacuation zones:

State government of New South Wales has declared a state of emergency and has urged a mass exodus from several towns on the southeast coast

Nowra

Canberra

Batlow

Batemans Bay

Cabramurra

Moruya

Badja

Greg Greg

Narooma

Belowra

Kosciuszko

National Park

Cobargo

Bega

Merimbula

Eden

Wonboyn

Mallacoota

Cann River

0

30

KM

Bemm River

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN;

OSM CONTRIBUTORS; NEW SOUTH WALES GOVERNMENT; NASA

AUSTRALIA FIRES

Data as of Thursday, Jan. 2, 9:00 a.m. ET

Hotspots for the past 24 hours

Evacuation zones

PAPUA NEW

GUINEA

Banda Sea

Solomon Sea

NORTHERN

TERRITORY

Coral Sea

QUEENSLAND

AUSTRALIA

WESTERN

AUSTRALIA

SOUTH

AUSTRALIA

NEW SOUTH

WALES

Great Australian

Bight

Sydney

VICTORIA

Melbourne

0

450

TASMANIA

KM

Nowra

Evacuation zones:

State government of New South Wales has declared a state of emergency and has urged a mass exodus from several towns on the southeast coast

Canberra

Batlow

Batemans Bay

Moruya

Cabramurra

Badja

Greg Greg

Belowra

Narooma

Kosciuszko

National Park

Cobargo

Bega

Merimbula

Eden

Wonboyn

Mallacoota

Cann River

0

30

KM

Bemm River

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN; OSM CONTRIBUTORS;

NEW SOUTH WALES GOVERNMENT; NASA

Dozens of Canadian fire-fighting experts on ground in Australia

Andrew Crisp, emergency management commissioner for Victoria, urged people in at-risk areas to leave their homes immediately and not count on luck to avoid disaster.

“This is your opportunity to get out. It is not just the fires we know. It is the new fires that might start today,” he told ABC News.

Another death from the fires in NSW was confirmed Friday, taking the toll in the state this week to eight. Two people have died in Victoria’s fires, and 28 others are unaccounted for.

The navy’s HMAS Choules and Sycamore started the evacuations of nearly 1,000 of the 4,000 people stranded on a beach in the isolated town of Malla­coota in far-east Victoria, federal MP Darren Chester tweeted Friday morning.

With all roads blocked, sea transport and some airlifts are the only way out of the stricken town, and each round trip by sea could take a day or more.

Authorities have called on residents and tourists to evacuate coastal towns along Australia's east coast ahead of extreme heat forecasts for the weekend. In the southeast, troops will support firefighting efforts and bring supplies of fuel and water to help with the evacuation. Reuters

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had called for calm on Thursday before visiting the fire-devastated NSW town of Cobargo, where he was not entirely welcome.

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Video showed Mr. Morrison confronted by a group of angry locals, one of whom shouted he should be “ashamed of himself” and said he had “left the country to burn.”

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance, whose represents the local area and is from the same party as the Prime Minister, said he had not heard from Mr. Morrison and did not know he was visiting the area.

“To be honest the locals probably gave him the welcome he probably deserved,” Mr. Constance told Channel 7.

A satellite image of the Batemans Bay shows smoke and fire from wild bushfires in Australia, December 31, 2019.

EUROPEAN UNION/Reuters

Mr. Morrison’s conservative government has long drawn criticism for not doing enough to address climate change as a cause of Australia’s savage drought and fires. Anthony Albanese, head of the Opposition Labor Party, called for a national response to a national emergency.

“We haven’t, in my lifetime, had people on beaches waiting to be evacuated in life jackets … like it’s a peacetime version of something that we have seen during wartime. This is not business as usual,” he said in a media conference.

Bushfires so far this season have scorched more than four million hectares of bushland and destroyed more than 1,000 homes, including 381 destroyed on the south coast just this week.

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The remains of a house destroyed by a bushfire is seen just outside Batemans Bay in New South Wales on January 2, 2020.

PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

The NSW Rural Fire Service says there are 127 fires burning in the state and warned of a fire front stretching 60 to 70 kilometres on Saturday. Past Saturday, there were no other peak days of fire danger forecast for a while.

A contingent of 39 firefighters from North America landed in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, this week, bringing to almost 100 the number of U.S. and Canadian experts who have flown in to help deal with the crisis.

Bushfires burn between the townships of Bemm River and Cann River in eastern Gippsland on January 02, 2020.

Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

A contingent of 39 firefighters from the United States and Canada arrive at Melbourne Airport in Melbourne, Thursday, January 2, 2020. The firefighters will assist local crews with ongoing fires burning across Victoria.

Julian Smith/The Associated Press

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed sympathy for those who have suffered in Australia, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said Thursday, adding that Mr. Guterres has warned that when it comes to tackling global warming, “right now the pace we’re on, we’re not winning that race.”

With reports from Associated Press

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