SYDNEY, 12 February 2017 (AFP) – Australia was counting the cost to property and livestock Monday after firefighters battled weekend blazes in some of the hottest conditions on record.
At least 19 homes were destroyed in eastern Australia as emergency teams were sent out to assess the damage after a “catastrophic” weekend saw over 100 fire outbreaks, with 2,500 firefighters deployed and thousands more on standby.
About 80 fires continued to burn Monday, with around a quarter still uncontained, said New South Wales (NSW) state Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, as conditions began to cool.
“We know that there are going to be homes lost. We know that there are going to be plenty of other buildings that have been destroyed.
“There is machinery that has been destroyed and … we are talking about livestock that has been destroyed as well,” he told reporters Monday, without giving numbers.
While bushfires ravage the Australian landscape every year, land and sea temperatures have been pushed up due to climate change, increasing the severity of fire seasons.
A statewide NSW average temperature of 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday set a new February record, while temperatures above 47 were recorded across some parts of the state on Sunday. [more]
By Chloe Farand
11 February 2017
(The Independent) – Authorities in Australia are facing the “worst possible fire conditions” and have declared a “catastrophic” fire danger over the weekend with the country engulfed in a series record-breaking heat wave.
The states of New South Wales and Queensland have felt sweltering temperatures, exceeding 40C, in recent days.
Up to 66 temperature records were broken in the New South Wales with the hottest temperature recorded in Ivanhoe at 47.6C.
At one point 49 fires were burning across the state of New South Wales,17 of which were not under control.
In a press conference, New South Wales rural fire commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said “This is not a usual fire day, this is as bad as it gets.
“To put it simply [the conditions] are off the old scale. It is without precedent in NSW,” he said. […]
The fire and rescue authorities in New South Wales are anticipating a “catastrophic danger” of fires throughout the weekend with areas of “severe and extreme fire danger”. [more]