[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Australia hit by hundreds of new wildfires

Lightning sparks an estimated 250 blazes as southeastern states swelter in temperatures reaching 46C.

Last updated: 15 Jan 2014 11:00
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
At least 44 houses were destroyed in a forest fire in Perth at the weekend [EPA]

Lightning strikes ignited more than 250 fires in southeast Australia as firefighters battled to put out the flames and the country sweltered in a heat-wave.

Efforts in the state of Victoria on Wednesday focused on containing about 20 blazes. A further 18 fires had already been brought under control or were being mopped up, and officials said no homes were currently under direct threat.

"Firefighters kept busy with 256 new fires started by lightning overnight," Victoria's Country Fire Authority said.

Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria have in recent days sweltered under temperatures reaching 46C.

Tennis players wilted in the conditions at the Australian Open in Victoria's capital Melbourne, with some vomiting and blacking out as the thermometer hit 42C.

In neighbouring South Australia, the capital Adelaide sweated through its fourth hottest day on record on Tuesday, with a high of 45.1C, and was again experiencing searing heat on Wednesday.

Firefighters faced difficult conditions after hundreds of fires were sparked by lightning in the state on Tuesday, with more than a dozen blazes still burning on Wednesday. Aircraft were water-bombing the worst-hit areas.

Western Australia has also been hit with a spate of fires. At least 44 houses have been destroyed in a forest fire on the outskirts of Perth, officials said at the weekend.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the heat-wave was focused mainly over southeastern Australia and had substantially subsided in the west, except for the northern areas including the resource-rich Pilbara region.

But severe conditions are forecast for southeastern South Australia, southern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

Officials in Victoria are concerned about an expected increase in winds on Friday that could spread flames.

Last year was Australia's warmest year since records began in 1910, and 2014 has begun with scorching conditions with more than 50 homes destroyed in bushfires in the western city of Perth on Monday.

312

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.