Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

FASHION

Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more

ENCORE!

Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • French journalist tells of release from captivity in Syria

    Read more

  • South Korea ferry captain defends decision to delay evacuation

    Read more

  • Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • PSG clinch fourth League Cup title after beating Lyon

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • In pictures: Good Friday celebrated across the globe

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Australia faces worst wildfire threat in 40 years

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-10-20

Australian officials warned Sunday that New South Wales was facing "unparalleled" danger from the worst wildfire conditions in more than 40 years. More than 200 homes have already been destroyed, with weather conditions likely to worsen.

Australian fire services warned Sunday that parts of New South Wales were facing the most dangerous combination of warm, dry weather and strong winds in more than 40 years as major wildfires swept the state.

Fire crews ramped up containment efforts around several of the blazes with the weather forecast to deteriorate and officials warning of "unparalleled" dangers.

More than 200 homes have already been destroyed and another 120 damaged by the wildfires, which broke out across New South Wales state in unseasonably warm weather earlier this week, fanned by extremely high winds.

The worst of the fires, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, plunged the city last week into an eerie midday darkness as plumes of smoke and ash filled the sky.

One man has died so far trying to protect his property.

Firefighters had a reprieve on Friday and Saturday with an easing in the weather, but containment and property protection efforts were stepped up on Sunday ahead of a forecast deterioration in weather set to include warmer temperatures and 100 kilometre per hour (60 mile per hour) winds.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said there would be several extremely difficult days ahead for fire crews.

"We've got what would be unparalleled in terms of risk and exposure for the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury communities throughout this week," Fitzsimmons told reporters.

"If you are to draw a parallel, and it's always dangerous to draw a parallel, at best you'd be going back to time periods in the late 60s."

"The reality is, however, these conditions that we're looking at are a whole new ball-game and in a league of their own."

State premier Barry O'Farrell said crews had carried out controlled burn operations through the night to strengthen buffer zones around the major Blue Mountains fires and "are on alert to switch to active firefighting if properties come under threat".

An emergency warning was issued for the Blue Mountains village of Bell on Sunday morning, with residents urged to evacuate, if they were able, or to "take shelter in a solid structure when the fire front arrives".

A total fire ban was in place in the Greater Sydney and three other regions across the state until further notice.

Assistant police commissioner Alan Clarke said mandatory evacuation orders would be enforced in some areas, describing the risk as "far more extreme" than in past fires.

"Police will be doing forced evacuations if the risk is necessary," Clarke told reporters.

"At the end of the day we hope we have buildings standing, but if we don't have buildings standing we don't want bodies in them."

"It's important to understand that the single tragedy that we've had in these fires so far has been the tragic circumstances where an individual chose to remain and fight a fire. It is extremely dangerous circumstances."

Conditions are expected to hit their worst on Wednesday and Fitzsimmons said contingency plans were being drafted for various fire trajectories.

"We have looked at best case, worst case and in-between case and no matter which scenario you look at there is going to be a significant amount of fire activity across the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury communities throughout this week," he said.

"We've seen some extraordinary devastation and destruction already in recent days and there is very real potential for a whole lot more to come."

Wildfires are common in Australia's summer months, which run from December-February, but an unusually dry and warm winter and record spring temperatures has seen the 2013/14 fire season start early.

(AFP)

 

Date created : 2013-10-20

  • AUSTRALIA

    Australian military investigates possible fire link

    Read more

  • AUSTRALIA

    Wildfires ravage communities around Sydney

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)