Australia's latest bush fires upgraded to 'catastrophic'
A raging bush fire has gutted a house in the southern Australian state of Victoria.
Chanel Nine News reports that the fate of the residents is not yet known.
A Country Fire Authority spokeswoman said while the house, located in the Otway Ranges, was destroyed, it has not been confirmed if anyone was inside at the time of the blaze.
"There is no access to the house by road because of fallen trees in the area, so crews are walking in," she said.
The fire broke out in the bush at about 3pm (local time) and quickly burned through several hectares of scrub on a private property.
Two firefighting aircraft, more than 100 firefighters and 28 fire trucks are currently battling the flames but the fire is not yet under control.
Residents in nearby areas have been urged to monitor conditions and stay informed.
Meanwhile, in excess of130 fires were burning across New South Wales, 40 of them uncontained, state Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
“You don’t get conditions worse than this, we are at the catastrophic level,” he said.
The categorisation was introduced after the 2009 'Black Saturday' firestorm in Victoria, which claimed 173 lives.
A 'catastrophic' level indicates that fires are uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast-moving.