Australia prepares for major heatwave, fires

2014-01-14 07:52
A firefighter works to extinguish a blaze near homes in Perth Hills in western Australia. (Evan Collis, Department of Fire and Emergency Services, AP)

A firefighter works to extinguish a blaze near homes in Perth Hills in western Australia. (Evan Collis, Department of Fire and Emergency Services, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Australian authorities warned on Tuesday of some of the worst fire danger since a 2009 inferno which killed 173 people, with most of the continent's southeast sweltering through a major heatwave.

Victoria state, where the so-called Black Saturday firestorm flattened entire villages in 2009 and destroyed more than 2 000 homes, was again bracing for extreme heat.

"These next four days promise to be amongst the most significant that we have faced in Victoria since Black Saturday," said acting state premier Peter Ryan.

Tens of thousands of firefighters were on standby, and 1 290 brigades were in a "state of high preparedness", he added, with the peak danger day expected on Friday when very strong winds are forecast.

"We are alive to the fact that we face these challenges over the course of these coming four days, including today [Tuesday]. But on the other hand we are well prepared, we are ready to go," Ryan said.

Temperatures above 40°C

A grass-fire tested crews early at Little River west of Melbourne, racing out of control and triggering a brief emergency alert before water-bombing aircraft managed to bring it under control.

Victoria and neighbouring South Australia state are bracing this week for what forecasters are describing as a "severe to extreme heatwave conditions", with successive days of temperatures above 40°C expected.

A similar heatwave struck before the 2009 fires, Australia's worst natural disaster of the modern era in terms of casualties. An estimated 374 people died during the preceding heatwave, with another 173 fatalities in the firestorm itself.

If the forecasts come to pass, Melbourne will see its longest stretch of hot weather in 100 years.
On Tuesday, players at the Australian Open were sweltering.

A ball boy collapsed and water bottles melted on court as the mercury soared above 40°C.

People treated for heat exposure

Experts said the outlook had echoes of 2009.

Hospitals and emergency authorities are on standby for an influx of heat-related call-outs, with Ambulance Victoria warning it would be "stretched".

"We have recalled all available staff, every available vehicle will be on the road," said operations manager Paul Holman.

Holman said 11 people were treated for heat exposure on Monday, including an elderly man who collapsed while playing lawn bowls.

The heat system has moved across Australia from the west coast, where a wildfire in Perth razed 52 homes on Sunday and claimed the life of one man as he prepared his home for the flames.

‘What will be left?'

Hundreds of residents sheltering in evacuation centres since they were forced to flee their homes prepared to return on Tuesday, with many fearing what they will find.

"It's just like, what's going to be there? What will be left?" Stoneville resident Fleur Adams told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Wildfires and hot weather are common in Australia's December-February summer months, but the current event is unusual because it is occurring in what is supposed to be a neutral period in the El Nino pattern bringing average conditions.
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
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy 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

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...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.