Soaring temperatures and strong winds stoked unpredictable bushfires near Australia's capital city on Feb. 1, closing a major highway and prompting warnings for some residents that it was too late to evacuate.
Skies along the Monaro Highway in the Australian Capital Territory turned orange-red as an uncontrolled blaze ballooned to more than 35,000 hectares (74,000 acres) in size.
Locals said that something like this this had not happened in several years.
After wildfires affecting vast forest areas, Australia was hit by storms. Although the rain is not enough to extinguish the fires, it was welcomed.
In some parts of New South Wales, there were even floods, and locals said it hadn't happened in several years.
Fire alarms have been sounding in high-rise buildings across downtown Sydney and Melbourne as dense smoke from distant wildfires confuse electronic sensors. Modern government office blocks in the Australian capital Canberra have been closed because the air inside is too dangerous for civil servants to breathe.
People around the world are uniting in a prayer for rain in Australia to help put out fires. So far, the fires have killed 19 people and 39 others were injured, TASS reported. Shocking videos of fires are shared on social networks.
Large-scale forest fires swept Australia's eastern coast in mid-October last year.
It started from the state of New South Wales
Mass evacuation in Australia. Thousands of people are leaving their homes because of the forest fires and the warning that the fires will spread in the coming days. The evacuation has already begun on the New South Wales coast and has been identified as the largest in the region's history.