Province leaves Alberni high and dry on water bombers

Bushfiresmoke hits Melbourne

21 December 2006

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Australia — Thickbushfire smoke cloaking Melbourne has led the city to record its poorest airquality since records began.

And Victoria’s north-east is preparing for horror bushfire conditions todayas a massive fire front rages towards them.

The Environment Protection Authority fielded 20 calls from the publicyesterday concerned about the impact of the smoke haze.

Visibility was reduced to less than 2km in the CBD and the measure of fineair particles soared up to 7.5 times its normal level, the EPA said.
The bushfires that began almost a fortnight ago led Melbourne to record itspoorest air quality in more than 20 years, eclipsing the dust storms of 1983 andthe 2003 bushfires, EPA rural services senior manager John Williamson saidyesterday. “Certainly the smoke has resulted in the poorest air quality everregistered since we’ve been recording in Melbourne,” he said.

Victorian health authorities warned the smog could lead to increasedrespiratory problems. And authorities fear the extreme fire danger could last atleast two days, with a change not expected until late tomorrow.
The bushfires across the State’s north-east and Gippsland areas have so farburnt about 750,000ha, claiming 32 houses and threatening many towns.

Elsewhere, Tasmanian authorities are on high alert today as soaringtemperatures and strong winds combine to threaten another devastating flare-upof bushfires along the State’s east coast.

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