Australian fire conditions worsen

2013-01-08 09:30
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.

kalahari.com

Sydney - Bushfires raged across Australia's most populous state on Tuesday, fanned by intense heat and high winds in "catastrophic" conditions which have forced hasty evacuations and are threatening homes.

Authorities warned New South Wales state faced one of the highest-risk fire days in its history, and temperatures rapidly climbed above 40ºC.

"We've got 100 fires on the books, we are now dealing with just over 20 fires that remain uncontained," New South Wales Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters in Sydney.

The greatest risk is in the Shoalhaven, Illawarra and southern ranges south of Sydney, popular summer holiday locations, with Shoalhaven mayor Joanna Gash saying the area was a "tinderbox".

Authorities have warned that an out-of-control grass fire was encroaching properties in Brogo, about 160km south of the national capital Canberra, and also in the Kybeyan Valley in southern NSW.

Catastrophic level

"We just looked at each other and said 'We're leaving'," Brogo resident Hallie Fernandez-Markov said from the town of Cobargo, where she was staying with friends after evacuating her guest house.

"It's high winds now, it's really blowy," she said of conditions, adding that temperatures were searing as she drove out along the heavily forested road as firetrucks rushed in to counter the blaze.

A total fire ban is in place throughout the state, while all national parks are closed, with temperatures forecast to peak at 45ºC. Sydney was by early afternoon sweltering in 42ºC heat.

Fitzsimmons said forecasts of hot, windy conditions were proving to be correct.

"You don't get conditions worse than this, we are at the catastrophic level and clearly in those areas leaving early is your safest option," he said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard urged caution.

"The word catastrophic is being used for good reason," she said. "So it is very important that people keep themselves safe, that they listen to local authorities and local warnings.

"This is a very dangerous day."

Uncontrollable

Introduced after the 2009 Black Saturday firestorm in Victoria state, which claimed 173 lives, a "catastrophic" rating means fires will be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast-moving, with evacuation the only safe option.

There were also extreme conditions in Victoria on Tuesday, with one fire at Kentbruck in the state's southwest doubling in size overnight with about 500 firefighters and 10 aircraft battling to stop it threatening rural communities.

Wildfires destroyed more than 100 homes on Tasmania over the weekend, and around 40 blazes were still burning across the southern island state Tuesday, including some threatening small communities.

"Currently we've got embers and spotting and ash blowing into Eaglehawk Neck, Pirates Bay, Doo Town area," Tasmanian Fire Service chief officer Mike Brown told reporters.

"We've been telling people for a number of hours now there was potential for that and they should consider relocating. It's now too late for that."

No deaths have been reported so far from the fires that are a regular occurrence in vast but sparsely populated and arid Australia, particularly in the hot summer months between December and February.

The last four months of 2012 were abnormally hot across the nation and the warm conditions have been exacerbated by very dry conditions due to the delayed start to a weak Australian monsoon.

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
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Music

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

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop 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

The virtual world can be very tempting to escape into but focus on also being present and keeping your feet anchored in reality....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.