As of Sunday, March 18, a total fire ban has been issued for more than half of New South Wales (NSW) and 11 regions are under severe fire conditions as bushfires spread throughout the state due to high temperatures and high winds; hundreds have reportedly been evacuated from affected regions and localized road closures remain in place. No deaths or injuries have been reported, but in Victoria, 12 homes have been destroyed and over 40,000 hectares of land have burned. About 22,000 homes in Victoria are without power due to high winds.
The NSW Rural Fire Service has stated that 26 bush and grass fires remain burning. As of 20:00 (local time) on Sunday, there were four main fires of concern to authorities: the Penshurst, Hawkesdale fire north-west of Warrnambool; the Gavroc fire south-west of Terang; the Terang, Cobden fire; and a smaller fire at Camperdown, east of Terang. Authorities believe that most of the fires were started by lightning.
A number of schools will be closed on Monday in the Bega and Tathra area, roads in and out of Tathra have been closed, and residents have been told to seek shelter from the fire as evacuation has become too dangerous. In Victoria, residents were also told to stay inside their homes as it is too dangerous to risk being caught by the flames in the open or to navigate the roads in the thick smoke.
Bushfires have become relatively common this season following a dry winter.
Individuals in the area are advised to keep abreast of the situation and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.
Individuals in vulnerable areas should prepare a Bushfire Survival Plan and activate the plan when told by the authorities. For further information, please visit the website of the New South Wales fire service.
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