Property losses from the bushfire that burned through Victorian coastal towns on Christmas Day is expected to pass $40 million.
Victorian authorities said government grants of $1,300 (950USD) were being offered to help those who had lost their homes.
The fires razed at least 100 homes on Victoria’s surf coast affecting some holiday homes. Many residents spent Christmas night in hastily organised evacuation centres.
All these businesses rely on this time of year to carry them through the rest of the year.
As homeowners and insurance assessors were slowly let back into the area, firefighters took advantage of the rain and cooler conditions which they said provided reprieve and helped slow the path of fires on Friday, December 25.
AAP reports that the surf coast could lose $50 million in tourism earnings as holidaymakers scattered by the fire threaten not to return for the rest of the summer holidays.
The fire was started by twin lightning strikes on December 19 and was still burning uncontrolled in the state forest in Otways, about 7km west of the popular tourist town of Lorne.
According to The Guardian, a spokesman for the Victorian state fire control centre said conditions were expected to remain relatively mild until Thursday, New Year’s Eve, when the Country Fire Authority is predicting temperatures of up to 35 degrees celcius.
Authorities warned that the fire risk both in the area and throughout the state would remain high into January at the peak of the southern summer.
“This fire doesn’t go away. This fire is a fire that will remain with potential to burn in January and February this year. The forecast for a long dry hot Summer is there,” said Craig Lapsley, the State’s Emergency Services Commissioner.
No one died in the fires, although three firefighters suffered minor injuries.