Worst yet to come in Australia heatwave

2014-01-16 08:19
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Australian wildfires flare up again

A man died and four other people were missing after a fast-moving wildfire destroyed at least 46 homes in western Australia's Perth.

Sydney - Australians sweltering through an extreme heatwave were warned that the worst was yet to come on Thursday, with hundreds of fires raging in several states and temperatures nearing record highs.

Most of southeast Australia has been in the grips of a scorching heatwave that triggered a devastating wildfire on the west coast, razing 55 homes and claiming one life on Sunday.

The mercury has soared above 40°C for successive days now in South Australia and there is a total ban on recreational fires in neighbouring Victoria where players at the Australian Open fainted, vomited and cramped up in blistering conditions.

Play was halted on Thursday afternoon due to the extreme heat, and a Melbourne school gardener, aged 76, died after collapsing on Wednesday in the grounds.

‘Escalating fire pattern’

Health officials in South Australia said 129 people had presented to hospital in the past three days with heat exhaustion and dehydration. In Victoria there were 109 cases and ambulance services reported almost double the average number of call-outs for heart attacks.

Wildfires raged across both states, with South Australia's Country Fire Service saying there were some 800 blazes of concern and an "escalating fire pattern over the next 48 hours", with total fire bans across the state from Friday.

"We may be reaching quite a dangerous phase in this heatwave and it's important that people are well aware of those risks," said state premier Jay Weatherill.

"Because we appear to be getting closer to some of the cooler weather does not mean that the threat is receding. If anything the threat is increasing."

Acting chief meteorologist for South Australia, John Nairn, said the state capital Adelaide was on track to eclipse its hottest ever temperature of 46.1°C, recorded in January 1939.

Worst scenario possible

"We're seeing today as a day where we may well set a record. We have a clear-sky day, the potential is there to reach that 46°C in Adelaide," he said.

In Victoria, 1 000 fires had been reported in the past 24 hours and 35 had taken hold. Friday is expected to bring horrific conditions for fire crews, with strong gusts and a wind change forecast.

"It's the worst scenario possible but it's a reality," said fire commissioner Craig Lapsley. "It's forecast for tomorrow."

Officials are warning of some of the worst fire weather in the state since 2009, when the so-called Black Saturday inferno killed 173 people and razed entire towns.

"To have four or five days of excessive temperatures during the day and during the nights is baking Victoria. It is taking the last amount of moisture out of any of the fuels," Lapsley said.
Read more on:    australia  |  weather

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Trying to keep time for your social commitments and friendships as well as taking care of work and health obligations can be a...read more

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


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.


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.