Hundreds of firefighters have been dispatched to tackle the blazes across Queensland and New South Wales which are said to have been accelerated by strong winds. Several hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in eastern Australia as firefighters attempt to tackle the bushfires. Authorities have said the intense infernos currently burning across several hundred thousand hectares of New South Wales and Queensland mark the worst start to the fire season on record for Queensland.
The wildfire season usually runs from October to April, but fires have started earlier than expected this year and officials fear it could be the worst season in decades.
Emergency services are battling the fires and new bodycam footage showing police evacuating people along the Australian coastal town of Peregian has shocked people around the world.
The fire in Peregian caught people by surprise after igniting on Monday afternoon and spreading quickly.
Queensland Police were ordering people to evacuate as quickly as possible, whilst wildfires blazed in the background.
In total, more than 300 firefighters were deployed to tackle the wildfire while hundreds of people fled the area.
Two teenagers have now been arrested over the fires, which have so far completely destroyed one home and seriously damaged another.
Police claim these youths were part of a group who were in bushland by Peregian Spring when the fire was deliberately ignited.
Peregian Spring resident Harry Bryant told ABC Australia: “I went outside, and I went down the street just to see where it was because there were all the alarms and everything, and a big red glow came up over the trees.
“I mentioned to a few people, “We’ve got to get out, it’s time to go”, and all of a sudden a big roar came up and all of these embers and flames went everywhere.”
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services assistant commissioner Brad Commens told AFP the early bushfire season had caught authorities off-guard.
He said: “At this point, we’re fairly early in the fire season so it’s difficult to predict how long this will go on for, but it’s certainly not what I’ve seen over the last 30 years.
“Without significant rain or without a significant weather change, I think we’re in for the long haul.”
Strong winds have fanned around 140 bushfires in total across northern Queensland and neighbouring New South Wales state this week, with flames ravaging thousands of hectares of land.
At least eight of the fires are suspicious, Queensland Police Commissioner Katrina Carroll told reporters, and police said they had questioned three children over blazes.
A 12-year-old boy was questioned after a group of teenagers were found on Monday in bushland near a skate park in Brisbane, Queensland’s capital.
The boy is believed to have deliberately lit a fire which spread to a nearby storage facility, destroying a fence, two shipping containers and their contents, police said.
Police are questioning two 14-year-old girls over a fire in bushland near the Gold Coast, a spokeswoman said.
Ms Carroll told Reuters: “Some of the fires have involved children playing and obviously the consequences are dire as a result of that and…some of them have been purposeful and malicious.
“People can die. Buildings and residences are being destroyed.”
Fire service officials reported that in Queensland, low humidity levels, high winds and dry vegetation have ignited and help to spread 85 fires that have subsequently destroyed or damaged 84 houses across the state.
Acting Queensland premier said there were more than 400 people in evacuation centres, but no casualties.
She said: “Apart from Sunshine Coast, we are still seeing fires right throughout the state.”
By comparison, in New South Wales firefighters were battling about 55 fires and five properties had been confirmed destroyed according to the NSW Rural Fire Service on Monday.