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Wednesday May 29, 2024

Australian homes destroyed in bushfires, ‘extreme’ heat ahead

Australia is in the grips of an El Nino weather pattern, which is typically associated with extreme phenomena such as wildfires, cyclones and droughts

By Reuters
February 26, 2024
This picture taken on December 31, 2019 shows a firefighter hosing down trees and flying embers in an effort to secure nearby houses from bushfires near the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales. — AFP/File
This picture taken on December 31, 2019 shows a firefighter hosing down trees and flying embers in an effort to secure nearby houses from bushfires near the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales. — AFP/File

SYDNEY: Days-long bushfires in Australia’s Victoria state have razed homes, authorities said on Sunday, warning “extreme” heat could fan the wildfires later this week.

“That is very sobering news for those families,” Victoria Premier Jacinta Allan told reporters, saying six homes had been confirmed destroyed.

The emergency has killed livestock, destroyed properties and forced more than 2,000 people to leave western towns and head to the city of Ballarat, 95 km (60 miles) west of state capital Melbourne.

Australia is in the grips of an El Nino weather pattern, which is typically associated with extreme phenomena such as wildfires, cyclones and droughts.

More than 15 bushfires were burning in Victoria on Sunday, with the most serious blaze, ranked at the second highest danger rating, near several remote towns, according to the state’s emergency authority.

Allan said there were “concerns about the weather this week particularly Wednesday into Thursday”. “What we know already is the indicators are in the extreme range,” she said, adding that emergency authorities would meet on Sunday to plan for the week ahead. Around 1,000 firefighters supported by more than 50 aircraft have battled the fires since they started.

The last two bushfire seasons in Australia have been subdued compared with the 2019-2020 “Black Summer”, when bushfires destroyed an area the size of Turkey, killing 33 people and 3 billion animals.