Monday, 11 November, 2019

Australia battles bushfires, prepares for ‘catastrophic’ conditions

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Deanna Wagner | 11 November, 2019, 02:17

Three people are dead and more are missing after wildfires erupted on the southeastern coast of Australia, according to the New South Wales Police, fueled by more than two years of drought that has impacted nearly all of the region.

Rural Fire Service volunteers and firefighters are battling blazes across the state, including Rainbow Flat, on the mid-north coast.

The RFS will also coordinate relief work with the Australian Defence Force.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria were all sending reinforcements to help the state fight fires.

The New England highway has also reopened, with a smoke warning and advice to drive to conditions.

The forecast for the rest of the fire season is driven by above average temperatures and below average rainfall, which have been exacerbated by the state's severe drought.

The fire burned in an easterly direction towards Newton Boyd, the Henry River area and the Mann River area.

The RFS has urged people affected by the fires on the mid-north coast and northern NSW areas to register with the Red Cross.

But fire authorities said that falling temperatures, increases in humidity and helicopter assistance were helping with efforts to tackle the blazes. Firefighters are seen here at a property at Old Bar. We can not guarantee an aircraft will be overhead every time a fire is impacting on your property.

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"Tomorrow's hot conditions could make it hard for firefighters to supress a fire should one start, therefore we are asking people to take heed of the Total Fire Ban conditions", said Country Fire Authority State Duty Officer John Katakouzinos.

"We don't know exactly where the fires are going to flare up but we do know that we when you have average weather conditions at 38 degrees and extremely windy conditions across the state, that everybody has to be on alert no matter where you are".

Tinderbox Bushfires are common in Australia and a vast corps of firefighters had already been tackling sporadic blazes for months in the lead-up to the southern hemisphere summer. They have advised residents to evacuate as the fire danger has reached unprecedented levels.

Several fires were also reported raging in the state of Queensland, north of NSW, with at least one of them classified at the emergency level.

The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and the Disaster Recovery Allowance have been activated to provide financial assistance, payment that provide $1000 for adults and $400 for children that have lost their homes.

Sixteen structures, including homes and sheds, have been damaged or destroyed by the Cobraball fire but there has been no loss of life.

"The reports were initially burns to 40 to 50 percent of her body", RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told abc.net.au.

"We can see a lot clearer through the bush now there's no understory", he chuckled. But nothing will compare to Friday night's tussle with the flaming beast on the doorstep of his home in Tinonee on the state's Mid Coast. "We need more action, we've got to stop this!"

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