(BBC) — Over 300 firefighters are out fighting the flames that are raging over Australia.
Police have declared a major emergency and told residents that their lives are at risk.
“At the moment, we have a fire which is extremely dangerous and it is burning under extremely adverse conditions,” South Australia Fire Chief Greg Nettleton said.
Nettleton said that the blazes are the worst that the country has seen since the fires on Ash Wednesday of 1983; that incident left 75 people lifeless.
Crews have also been fighting bush fires in Victoria, but all warnings have now been downgraded as a cold front moves into the area.
“Hopefully tomorrow and the next few days the fire danger will ease as this cold front passes through Victoria,” a spokesman from the area’s fire authority told ABC news.
So far, five houses have been reported as destroyed, but authorities fear that dozens more have been damaged.
“If you have decided to stay, the fire could become incredibly scary and it could make you change your mind and leave… It could be a catastrophic decision to leave late,” South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill urged.
In 2009, the devastating “Black Saturday” wildfires killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes in Victoria.