Lightning sparks numerous fires in Australia

Lightning sparks numerous fires in Australia

19 November 2009

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Australia — More than 20 bushfires are burning in catastrophic conditions on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, but the risk from the worst of them has been reduced, and firefighters are also getting the upper hand on another large bushfire on Yorke Peninsula. A spokeswoman from the Bureau of Meteorology says lightning from a severe thunderstorm is causing absolute chaos on the Eyre Peninsula and the temperature has skyrocketed. The Eyre Peninsula outbreaks were started by lightning strikes but there have been no reports of injuries. And the risk from the worst blaze, east of Streaky Bay on the state’s west coast, has been reduced. The latest fires are being reported near Yeelanna, Wudinna, Greenpatch, Tooligie Hill, Ceduna, Darke Peak, Cummins, Cowell and Tumby Bay. Strong winds are fanning the flames and locals are being urged to activate their bushfire plans. Residents in those areas are being told if they can see or smell smoke it is too late to leave home.

The Country Fire Service (CFS) says the Streaky Bay fire is in an area with a catastrophic rating. The threat from that fire has been reduced but the service is urging residents to stay indoors and keep off roads.

Yorke Peninsula fire

A fire is still burning out of control near Curramulka, on the state’s Yorke Peninsula, however the Country Fire Service says crews have now managed to halt the blaze south of Currumulka. However the CFS says a change in the wind direction may push the blaze towards Currumulka. The fire started on a farming property north of the township and has burnt nearly 700 hectares and progressed about eight kilometres from where it flared. Water bombing aircraft were involved in fighting the blaze, which had a fire front 700 metres wide. Five people were injured when two CFS trucks collided while fighting the bushfire near Curramulka.

New South Wales fires

Firefighters are also working to control several blazes burning across New South Wales, but the Rural Fire Service (RFS) says no properties are under threat at this stage. In the state’s north-west, a fire near Inverell has burnt out more than 2,500 hectares of scrub and grass. The RFS in central-west New South Wales is working to identify remaining hot spots from a blaze in the Canobolas State Forest before conditions deteriorate.

The RFS is using infrared technology and GPS equipment to mark underground fires which could reignite. All local RFS centres have been ordered to be manned and on standby because of today’s severe fire danger. Farmers in the Forbes, Parkes, Weddin and Lachlan shires are also being urged to stop using harvesting machinery if the weather worsens. The Rural Fire Service has issued a warning of catastrophic fire danger for parts of New South Wales Nov.20, for those in the lower central western plains, the southern and northern Riverina and the far west and south-west of the state.

Severe weather warnings

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued severe thunderstorm warnings for the Yorke Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Eyre Peninsula, North-West Pastoral and parts of the west coast and North-East Pastoral districts of South Australia.

The Bureau has recorded damaging wind gusts of up to 80 kilometres per hour and is urging residents to secure loose items and stay indoors. The warning comes as temperatures top 45 degrees some areas and parts of the state are declared catastrophic code rode areas. The weather bureau says Adelaide has broken its hottest November record (set on November 30, 1993) by reaching 43 degrees Celsius about 4:30pm ACDT. Regions in New South Wales and Victoria are approaching 40 degrees Celsius but Ceduna in South Australia has dropped from above 40 degrees to 35. Parts of New South Wales and Victoria are also dealing with extreme temperatures and total fire bans have been issued for both states.

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