The devastating Australian brushfires that have been raging for many weeks did not even take a day of rest to ring in the new year. There are currently 100 fires burning in the state of New South Wales and a dozen in Victoria.

In Mallacoota, a beach town in southeastern Australia, people were forced to evacuate their homes and take refuge on the beach, as blazes swept in and triggered an alarm bell at 8:00 AM on Tuesday. “It should have been daylight but it was black like midnight and we could hear the fire roaring,” said local resident David Jeffrey to the BBC. “We were all terrified for our lives.” Some people hopped in boats and waited on the water.

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In Batemans Bay, a little further north in NSW, similar scenes played out, with people sitting on the beach next to life rafts while their towns were burning down. They were ready to take to the waters if conditions worsened.

Despite the devastation, air quality, extensive fire bans, and an online petition to cancel the event, Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks went ahead as scheduled.

The post Thousands find refuge on beaches as fires swarm towns in southeast Australia appeared first on Matador Network.