Bushfire situation worsens in Australia

Bushfire situation worsens in Australia

13 December 2006

published by www.radionz.co.nz

Australia — Australia’s bushfire situation is worsening, with three statesnow seriously affected.

The state most affected is Victoria, where two blazes have joined to create a250km front. Lightning strikes overnight ignited two more fires in the Gippslandarea.

About 408,000 hectares across the state have been burned so far, according toan assessment using infra-red aircraft. The largest blaze spans 370,000 hectaresfollowing the merging of the Alpine and Gippsland fires.

The fires were sparked by lightning strikes on Friday.

Alert issued for town

The northeast Victorian town of Glencairn has been put on high alert as theMt Terrible bushfire bears down on it, fuelled by strengthening winds.

The Department of Sustainability & Environment (DSE) issued an urgentalert on Wednesday, warning residents of flying embers and spot fires.

Glencairn is expected to come under ember attack in the next 24 hours. Northto northwesterly winds gusting up to 30km/h have been forecast on 1,500m peaksby mid-morning.

Troops were dispatched to Erica on Tuesday to help build a massive controlline in the path of the Mt Terrible blaze. An alpine lodge at Mt Buffalo Resortwas destroyed by a separate outbreak.

The ABC reports there are concerns a wind shift could push fires towards theThomson Dam, Melbourne’s main water storage.

Other states

In Tasmania, a bushfire has already destroyed 14 houses and is showing nosigns of slowing. Backburning was suspended on Tuesday night as temperaturesdipped to 10°C.

In Perth, crews worked through the night to mop up a fire in the suburb ofKalamunda, which destroyed one house and damaged two others.

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