Aus firefighters race to beat heat spike

2013-01-10 08:32
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Australia hit by devastating bush fire

Australia has been hit by a devastating bush fire which has burnt out entire communities. Another week of intense heat is expected as Australians brace for days of "catastrophic" fire.

Yass - Australian firefighters were racing against the clock to bring a series of blazes under control on Thursday before a forecast spike in temperatures brings the risk of more infernos.

Fires have been raging across Australia for nearly a week and while many have been contained, 126 are still burning and at least 15 remain out of control in the country's most populous state, New South Wales.

A cooler weather front that brought some relief on Wednesday continued in many parts Thursday, but temperatures are set to soar once again to well over 40ºC on Friday, piling pressure on firefighters.

NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said crews were working flat out on containment efforts before the heat returned.

"It's about focusing on getting as much contained and consolidated as we can ahead of a return to hotter and dryer conditions dominating much of NSW over the coming days," Fitzsimmons told ABC television.

Wind reprieve

"We're looking at temperatures across much of NSW into low-to-mid 40s and extending into the high 40s on Saturday.

"The only reprieve, if you can call it that, is that we are not expecting significant wind strengths to build.

"But it is almost academic. With such hot, dry and dominant [weather] movement from the northwest, even a moderate breeze is going to be problematic and risky for communities and firefighters over the weekend."

The blazes have scorched more than 350 000ha of land in New South Wales alone, and while more than 100 homes were razed in Tasmania state last weekend, only a handful have been destroyed nationwide since.

No deaths have been reported.

Farming

The biggest impact has been on farmers, with vast amounts of pasture, crops and animal feed lost, as well as thousands of head of stock and agricultural infrastructure such as sheds and outbuildings.

One of the worst-hit areas is Yass Shire west of Canberra where a fire has so far burnt out 16 000ha and killed 10 000 sheep.

"Great work by fire crews, supported by aircraft have slowed the progress of the fire," an emergency official said.

"Residents are still urged to remain vigilant and ensure properties are well prepared as temperatures rise during the day."

As well as New South Wales, fires continue to burn in the states of Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.

Arson, accidents

Wildfires are a fact of life in arid Australia, where 173 people died in the 2009 Black Saturday firestorm, the nation's worst natural disaster of modern times.

Most are ignited naturally, but in Sydney's west three teenage boys were charged with deliberately lighting a fire on Tuesday, and on Wednesday a man was charged after sparks from his angle grinder caused a blaze.

Police said he was using the power tool on his property near Mudgee, northwest of Sydney, when sparks ignited nearby grass. So far the fire has destroyed 140 hectares of farmland and was still burning.

In Tasmania residents of the fishing village of Dunalley, where 90 homes and businesses were destroyed, could be allowed back home on Friday, police said, as heroic stories of survival emerged.

"We saw tornadoes of fire just coming across towards us and the next thing we knew everything was on fire, everywhere all around us," Tim Holmes, who took refuge under a jetty with his five young grandchildren, told the ABC.

"We were all just heads, water up to our chins just trying to breathe because it was just, the atmosphere was so incredibly toxic."

The family survived but are now homeless.

Read more on:    australia  |  weather
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Africa
 

Hottie of the day: Charlotte

Meet our hottie of the day, Charlotte. She feels sexiest after a good workout at the gym!

 
 

Men24.com

This is why guys shouldn’t be in photos
BMW drift battle: M235i vs. speedway bike
Want to start talking dirty?
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange

Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. Now R221. Pre-order now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Enjoy the view because as from tomorrow you are going to need to come back down to earth and join the party. In the meantime use...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.