COOMA, Australia — Firefighters battled scores of wildfires Tuesday in southeastern Australia as authorities evacuated national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level.
Temperatures soared to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas.
No deaths have been reported, although officials in Tasmania were still trying to find about 100 people who have been missing since last week when a fire tore through the small town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, destroying around 90 homes. On Tuesday, police found no bodies during preliminary checks of the ruined houses.
“You don’t get conditions worse than this,” New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said. “We are at the catastrophic level and clearly in those areas leaving early is your safest option.”
Catastrophic threat level is the most severe rating.
Wildfires are common during the Australian summer. The combination of soaring temperatures and dry, windy conditions since Friday have sparked fires that burned 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of forests and farmland across southern Tasmania.