January 10, 2013 10:45 PM

They say a photo is worth a thousand words, but this one might have a few barks as well.

In a picture taken by Tim Holmes on Jan. 4, a dog stands guard over Holmes’s family – wife Tammy and their five grandchildren – as the group clings to a pier in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, Australia, where wildfires have been raging over the past few days due to an extended heat wave that has brought the country four of its 10 hottest days on record.

“There was so much smoke and embers and there was probably 200 millimeters to 300 millimeters (8 to 12 inches) of air above the water,” Holmes told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “So we were all just heads, water up to our chins just trying to breathe because the atmosphere was so incredibly toxic.”

“It raged for three hours,” he continued. “Everything was on fire and it was just exploding all over the place. Yeah, amazing. Just scorched.”

While there have been no reported deaths, 100 people have not been accounted for in Dunalley after 90 homes were destroyed. Elsewhere in the state of Tasmania, 198,000 acres have been burned and many residents have been forced to relocate to two evacuation shelters. Across the country, firefighters have been battling as many as 141 fires, with some still unable to be contained.

A recent wave of cooler temperatures has been aiding in the relief effort, but the extreme heat is expected to return later in the week. As Australia continues to battle the flames, those looking to help the affected can contribute to the Australian Red Cross.

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