Australia bushfires: 'Beautiful yet terrifying' photo shows blazes 'like lava'

A startling photo of Australia's devastating bushfires shows the flames approaching a town in Victoria "like lava".

Melissa Ericksen, a resident of Euroa, snapped the picture on Balmattum Hill after watching the fires develop on Saturday.

"I took the image at 9.45pm after the strong wind change had come through," she told News.com.au.

"Balmattum Hill is a place I have walked all my life and it appeared to be covered in lava under the darkness."

Her photo was shared on the Facebook page of Maindample Rural Fire Brigade, which added the comment: "looks like lava". 

Ericksen said the photo was "beautiful yet terrifying".

More than 40 fire trucks, three aircraft and three helicopters fought the blaze, Ericksen told News.com.au.

"Our emergency services did an incredible job containing the fire and preventing any loss of houses."

She said that during the day the hill was covered by smoke so it was not until night time that light from the fire was visible.

The photo was taken on Saturday night.
The photo was taken on Saturday night. Photo credit: Melissa Ericksen / Facebook

At least 23 people have died since September due to the fires. In Victoria, 31 fires continue to burn, while in New South Wales almost 140 blazes remain across the state.

More than 5.25 million hectares of land has burnt so far in the fire season and almost 1,500 homes destroyed in NSW alone.

Firefighters are facing increasing pressure, with record-breaking temperatures across the country and no respite in sight.

On Sunday, the New Zealand Government announced it would be sending support over the Tasman to help out. That came after Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would be deploying his country's Defence Force Reserves to the fire zones.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz