Thousands left homeless by fires

Thousands of people left homeless by devastating bushfires have been forced to take refuge in tents, caravans, or spare rooms offered by fellow residents.

An estimated 10,000 people in Victoria, Australia, have been left with nowhere to live after fire destroyed their homes and left many of the structures contaminated.

Craig Lapsley, director of the Victoria Department of Human Services' emergency management branch, said many homes had become hazardous.

"Many families are unable to return to their own destroyed properties because they are contaminated and hazardous because of unstable structures and products of combustion," he said, according to local media reports.

Tent and caravan cities are now springing up across the state, and officials have appealed for residents in unaffected areas to offer up spare rooms for displaced people.

A helpline - the Victorian Bushfire Accommodation Donation Line - has been set up by the state government to help match up people with spare rooms to homeless people.

State housing minister Richard Wynne said: "The hotline is for people in the community who want to donate the use of a property, be it a spare room, a whole house, holiday home or caravan for the temporary use of those left homeless by these devastating fires."

He added: "We will work to match people housing that suits their needs, whether that is as close as can be managed to their affected communities or potentially elsewhere near to friends or family."

While Victoria has been devastated by bushfires, the situation in Queensland has been quite the opposite as severe floods have affected the state.

The Australian Government has already paid out more than $20m in Disaster Recovery Payments to more than 25,000 victims of the two disasters.

Kate Martin



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