One person has died in Victoria and numerous campsites and homes have been evacuated as bushfires burn through four Australian states.
Victorian firefighters battled around 70 fires across the state, while lives and homes were being threatened in South Australia and an emergency warning was issued in Western Australia.
Homes were also under threat in Queensland where a large blaze moved towards the Darling Downs and sparked calls for locals to prepare to evacuate.
On a day in which Victoria faced some of the worst fire conditions since Black Saturday in 2009, a woman died at a Roses Gap home in the state’s northwest Grampians region.
The Grampians fire, which has burnt through 21,000 hectares, also sparked evacuation orders for nearby Halls Gap and a number of surrounding towns on Friday.
Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley warned that an afternoon southwesterly change could cause further havoc.
“There is a fair chance of losing property and even, if people are caught in the wrong space, a life could be lost,” he told reporters.
He said the fire had given birth to a 12-kilometre convection column that was creating its own weather.
“They are having lightning in the area generated by that convection column, they are having spot fires dropping in and around Halls Gap.”
While most Halls Gap residents heeded the evacuation warning, some elected to stay.
One of those was the owner of the Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park, Rohan McDonald.
Mr McDonald said a plume of smoke resembling an atomic bomb blast was visible from the tourist town and that his 100 campsites and 20 cabins now lay vacant.
“They all started leaving last night when they saw the big red glow on top of the mountain,” he told AAP.
Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells warned that a series of fires burning at Gippsland, in the state’s east, could merge and create a 500,000 hectare blaze.
Meanwhile in South Australia, the Country Fire Service (CFS) chief officer Greg Nettleton warned an approaching lightning storm on Friday night would likely add to the fire tally.
A blaze at Bangor, near Port Germain, north of Adelaide, continued to pose the biggest threat of the 16 blazes burning through the state as it was in difficult terrain.
In Western Australia, an emergency warning was issued for people in the southern part of Bullsbrook, north of Perth.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said homes were under threat by fire and that burning embers were likely to be blown around homes.
Spot fires were starting up to 500m ahead of the fire, the DFES said.
In Queensland, four water bombing aircraft and 15 fire crews battled the bushfire near the Gore Highway at The Pines, about 120km west of Toowoomba.
Firefighters told those living in the vicinity of The Pines to leave, with the fire expected to reach homes at Paddy’s Creek Road and Pine Ridge Road on Friday night.