Thousands of firefighters continue to battle several major fires in southern Australia, and the number of dead is expected to rise as rescue workers reach areas ravaged by fire.
You have been telling us what conditions are like in Melbourne and other towns in affected by the fires.
It's like all hell's broken loose tonight. It's just a mass confusion, and to make matters worse, it seems that the mobile phone networks are down. I'm lucky - I'm not in a high-risk area, but I know people who are in danger, and I can't get in contact with them.
Jamie, Melbourne, Australia
It's been a terrible day here. The temperature has reached a record 46 degrees with gale force hot winds. There are many fires and people have died. Friends have gotten into their dam to escape the fire. This is much worse than the Ash Wednesday fires.
Jo, Melbourne, Australia
It's hard to believe just how hot it was here today. You can see the smoke in the air in Melbourne, it's a shade of brown. My heart goes out to all those who've suffered.
Simon, Melbourne, Australia
Its 11.30pm, I've just gone to bed, and all I've been able to smell is wood burning for the last five hours!
Dave Haywood, Seville, Melbourne
Police believe that deaths may be in the 40s, once all are counted. Some of the fires are still spreading as we approach midnight. Even those of us sandwiched between relatively quiescent fires don't dare go to bed yet.
Erik Christiansen, Melbourne, Australia
These fires send a chill up my spine. I grew up in bushfire country 30 kilometres out of Melbourne. I still remember in 1962-3 the raging flames jumping the river and tearing up the hill - our neighbours' house went but Dad somehow saved ours. We got out just in time but we never ever again saw kangaroos in our backyard. They were wiped out for good. I was five years old then and every summer thereafter we'd wait with foreboding to hear the sirens and smell the unmistakable smoke in the distance. Mother nature at her fiercest. God bless the firefighters and volunteers!
Ralph Davidsom, ex Melbourne
What an amazing contrast at this point in time to the northern hemisphere. Its difficult to describe a city engulfed in 47 degree temperatures, 80 kilometres per hour wind that is literally so hot it makes it difficult to even breath. And as a result, a state now ravaged by fire, with now tragically confirmed 14 deaths, and merely brave souls defending their properties. Our thoughts are with the valiant firefighters currently fighting these fires, and hope that will be dealt with as expediently as humanly possible. Indeed a very humbling experience witnessing nature at its most extreme.
Adam Haines, Melbourne
The smell of smoke is very strong, although we are lucky to not be directly affected. My brother in Yarra Glen spent the day mopping burning embers as they landed from a fire several kilometres away. Local news agencies are reporting more than 5000 hectares (12,500 acres) are burnt, many houses. Our thermometer read 47.8 degrees C at 4pm. The blast of hot wind that hit when we went outside was like that felt when you open an oven door and the grass crunched underfoot like breakfast cereal. Thank goodness for the CFA (Country Fire Authority) - thousands of those brave volunteers headed out into the heat to fight fires today, and many will be working on through the night. Tomorrow should be cooler - let's also hope for some much needed rain.
Linda, Kyabram, Victoria, Australia
I live in the city of Melbourne and the heat today has been unbearable. The sky has been very cloudy and smoky all day giving an eerie orange glow. The winds have been extremely high and I can't imagine how terrifying it must be for the volunteer firefighters standing face to face with these 10 metre flames. Footage of the flames moving up hills at what looks like 100 kilometres an hour is just frightening. My thoughts are with those who have lost their homes, loved ones, and those still fighting to save their homes.
Sarah Putnam, Melbourne, Australia
It has been a scary day and the fires continue to rage well into the night. Just because we live in a big city does not protect us from the elements. Australia is a tough country to live in. We have had no rain for 8 weeks and that is why so much is burning. Our garden is burnt brown by the sun. Leaves are just frying in the heat. This though is nothing when you see the extent of the fires. We all feel for those directly affected by the fire storm. We hear that you have cold weather. Please send some.
Alison Blakeley, Melbourne Australia
We've had over 46 C here today, so it's been stifling all day. Compounding this has been the storm-force winds that were blowing all day. We had a cool change blow in this afternoon (from 46 C down to 33 C in 15 minutes) but the strong winds expected with it have not eventuated yet, which I believe has worked with the fire 20 kms to the north of us, to burn it back into itself. Unfortunately, with any winds that do come, it means that the fires will start to move and be a danger to communities again. Now, we're just sitting and waiting for the strong SW winds to come through and blow the heat away.
Liz Aitken, Kyneton, Victoria, Australia
You cannot imagine the conditions today - over 46 C and winds around 60 km/h. We live in the north east of Melbourne about 40 km from the deadly fires in Kinglake. The sky was red and dark all day from a mix of the red dust which came with the hot winds from the hot centre of Australia and the smoke from the fires. The areas that are burning are some of the most beautiful areas of Victoria. The areas are very hilly and towns like Kinglake (which has been wiped out) are only reachable via winding smaller roads up the hills which are being cut off by the fires and therefore very difficult to reach. Seeing some of the pics on local TV, the conditions are very much like the firestorms in the bombed cities in Europe during WW2. It is all very sad. The weather change has arrived and the temperature fallen below 30C but with the wind change it wont help much - we need rain. Everything is so dry and many areas have no water to fight the blazes. I expect more fatalities.
Michael Henriksen, Melbourne, Australia
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