An aerial view shows bushfires on Fraser Island
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows bushfires on Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia, in this still image taken from video released on December 2, 2020. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services/via REUTERS

December 6, 2020

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Residents of a coastal township on Australia’s World Heritage-listed Fraser Island were told to evacuate on Sunday as a bushfire approached.

Since it was sparked by an illegal campfire seven weeks ago, the blaze has blackened half the island off Australia’s north eastern coast, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef and famed for a tropical rainforest on sand dunes, and inland lakes.

“Leaving immediately is the safest option, as it will soon be too dangerous to drive,” Queensland state’s Fire and Emergency Services said on social media. “Any persons in the vicinity of Happy Valley township should leave the area.”

Australia has been experiencing hotter and longer summers, with last season dubbed “Black Summer” by Prime Minister Scott Morrison due to unusually prolonged and intense bushfires that burned nearly 12 million hectares (30 million acres) and killed 33 people and an estimated 1 billion animals.

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by William Mallard)

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