Australia weather increases threat of fires
Fifteen fires continue to burn out of control in New South Wales as premier declares state of emergency.
Firefighters continued to battle some of the most destructive wildfires to ever strike Australia’s most populous state on Sunday, with higher temperatures and winds expected to intensify the danger in the coming days.
The number of fires have been reduced from more than 100 to 61 on Sunday, but 15 of these fires continue to burn out of control, including the blaze near Lithgow, west of Sydney, which is burning on a 300km and was given the highest danger ranking by the fire service.
Authorities expect that blaze will continue to burn for days and have advised several nearby communities to consider evacuating ahead of worsening weather conditions.
The premier of New South Wales state, Barry O’Farrell, declared a state of emergency in an effort to force evacuations if needed.
The fires have killed one man, destroyed a total of 208 homes in New South Wales state and damaged another 122 since Thursday, the Rural Fire Service said.
Officials said temperatures in the fire zone on Sunday exceeded 25C, winds reached 20km/h and humidity dropped to 30 per cent.
The Defence Department, meanwhile, said it was investigating whether there was any link between the Lithgow fire, which started on Wednesday, and military exercises using explosives at a nearby training range on the same day.
Arson investigators are examining the origins of several of more than 100 fires that have threatened towns surrounding Sydney in recent days.
The wildfires have been extraordinarily intense and early in an annual fire season that peaks during the southern hemisphere summer, which begins in December.
In February 2009, wildfires killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes in Victoria state.
Courtesy : Al Jazeera