Wildfires rage across Australia

2013-01-08 20:26
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

Cooma - Firefighters battled scores of wildfires on Tuesday in south-eastern Australia as authorities evacuated national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level.

Temperatures soared to 45°C in some areas.

No deaths have been reported, although officials in Tasmania were still trying to find about 100 people who have been missing since last week when a fire tore through the small town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, destroying around 90 homes.

On Tuesday, police found no bodies during preliminary checks of the ruined houses.

"You don't get conditions worse than this," New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

"We are at the catastrophic level and clearly in those areas leaving early is your safest option."

Catastrophic threat level is the most severe rating.

Wildfires are common during the Australian summer. The combination of soaring temperatures and dry, windy conditions since Friday have sparked fires that burned 20 000ha of forests and farmland across southern Tasmania.

In New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, the fires scorched more than 30 000ha. All state forests and national parks were closed as a precaution and total fire bans were in place.

In Victoria state, where fires in February 2009 killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2 000 homes, officials said two people were treated for minor burns and four were treated for smoke inhalation.

Up to 20 properties in the town of Chepstowe west of Melbourne reportedly were hit by a fire, although it was too early to know the extent of the damage, a Victoria Country Fire Authority spokesperson said.

More than 130 fires were blazing across New South Wales, though only a few dozen houses were threatened as night fell. One home was destroyed in the village of Jugiong, northwest of the capital of Canberra, fire officials said.

Evacuation

A fire was burning near about 30 homes near the small town of Cooma, south of Canberra.

Cooma-Monaro shire Mayor Dean Lynch told Australia's Sky News some residents had evacuated to the nearby town of Nimmitabel.

Wind gusts of more than 100km/h were recorded in some parts of the state, although a cool front moving across the region on Tuesday brought some relief and raised hopes that New South Wales might avoid major damage.

"If we get through today without loss of life and loss of property, we'll have had a remarkable escape from what could have been," New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell told the Seven Network.

Many residents in the town of Tarcutta, about 200km west of Canberra, took shelter at a community centre.

Eva Toth, owner of the Tarcutta Halfway Motor Inn, opted instead to hunker down inside the office for a sleepless night next to her motel. She was ready to jump in her car if word came that the flames were close.

"The wind is just unbelievable. It just suddenly comes like a whirly, twirly tornado," she said by telephone.

"To live this is really frightening. When you walk into my place, you can smell the smoke even in my house."

One volunteer firefighter suffered severe burns to his hands and face while fighting a grass fire near Gundaroo village, about 220km southwest of Sydney, on Monday.

He was flown to a hospital in Sydney for treatment. Fitzsimmons, the fire commissioner, said the firefighter's condition had improved on Tuesday and he should be released from the hospital in the next few days.

- SAPA
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
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

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

20% off all TV Series!

Want to have a chilled day at home? Get 20% off TV series, the perfect excuse to "veg out". Shop now!

Save R700 on the Hisense LED TV Now R2499

Get the Hisense 32” HD ready LED TV for only R2499. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

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!

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

Your ideas may feel like a sea of thoughts swimming around every which way, and now you need to find something to contain them in...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.