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Evacuations begin following East Gippsland bushfires

Crews monitor fires and begin back burns between the towns of Orbost and Lakes Entrance in East Gippsland on Jan. 02 in Australia. The HMAS Choules docked outside of Mallacoota to evacuate thousands of people stranded in the remote coastal town following fires across East Gippsland, which have killed one person and destroyed dozens of properties. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Australian state declares 7-day state of emergency over wildfires

The Australian state of New South Wales has declared a week-long state of emergency due to the deadly wildfires currently devastating the area. It’s the third state of emergency for the region since November.

State Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Thursday that the state of emergency would come into effect Friday morning, in anticipation of worsening conditions on Saturday.

Some residents are already evacuating the region, and any visitors who are in the tourist leave area are being asked to depart before Saturday.

A state of emergency means that emergency services will be able to close or open roads at will and forcibly evacuate members of the public.

At least 17 people have died since the start of the wildfire season in September, and 12 million acres of land have been burned. It’s also feared that nearly half a billion animals could be dead as a result of the widespread fires.

Firefighters from around the world are heading to Australia to support their peers on the ground. By Jan. 4, it’s estimated that 87 Canadian firefighters will be joining emergency services in New South Wales to help battle the ongoing blaze.

Temperatures are expected to reach above 40 C this weekend, with some relief in sight on Sunday, when rain is expected to fall.