Friday, 22 November, 2019

Australia wildfires cause injuries, raze more than 100 homes

A firefighter works as a bushfire burns in Port Macquarie New South Wales A firefighter works as a bushfire burns in Port Macquarie New South Wales
Deanna Wagner | 09 November, 2019, 19:54

Firefighters had warned they were in "uncharted territory" as they deployed 1,200 firefighters and 70 aircraft across a roughly 1,000-kilometer stretch of the seaboard.

The NSW Rural Fire Service says one other person is confirmed dead.

Climate change is affecting all parts of the globe, and it appears to be the culprit for Australia's early fire season this year.

People and their pets fled from the path of two raging bushfires in Queensland as dozens of unsafe fires burned in the state.

In NSW, the worst-hit state, crews have fought hundreds of fires since September.

"Our thoughts and prayers of course go to the families and loved ones of those two deceased persons", she said.

"The situation is very serious", she said in a statement.

"We do need to brace ourselves and what is concerning is that the forecast weather conditions on Tuesday could mean that we're not through the worst of it".

A Guardian analysis on fire patterns over the last 44 years found a connection among weather events, such as El Niño, climate change, and the country's fire season.

In Queensland, where emergencies had been declared for three fires early on Friday evening, around 6,500 people in several towns including Cooroibah and Tewantin, were told to leave by the state's fire and emergency services.

Local radio stopped normal programming and provided instructions about how to try to survive fires if trapped at home or in a vehicle.

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Firefighters are bracing for another hard day as winds across NSW ramp up.

RFS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers said firefighters dealt with "horrific" and "traumatic" scenes including helping residents suffering burns and heart attacks. More than 50 smaller blazes were also burning out of control.

Major roads and highways have been closed in affected areas such as Tenterfield, Armidale, Clarence Valley, Port Macquarie, Nambucca and Kempsey. The fires were visible from space by NASA's satellites.

Emergency warnings have been issued from the Blue Mountains to the Queensland border.

"These fires are extremely unsafe".

Pyrocumulous clouds can produce dry lightning. At least five schools have closed due to the fires.

Mr Fitzsimmons said little reprieve in fire conditions could be expected over the next week or throughout the summer months of December, January and February. "And we will continue to do so", he said.

He added that usually spot fires - caused by embers flying ahead of a fire front - would be 4km ahead but yesterday they were flying ahead by between six and 12km.

"Devastating bushfires are going to knock out some of these key population centres, but so also will increasing temperatures", he said, by affecting the nutrition value of the leaves that are the animals' sole food source.

A firefighter on property protection watches the progress of bushfires in Old Bar, New South Wales, Australia. One of those is likely to be of Rainbow Flat resident Kim.

At least 100 homes have been destroyed.