Skip to comments.Nation braces for black Christmas
Posted on 12/23/2005 3:24:50 AM PST by naturalman1975
FIREFIGHTERS are bracing for a black Christmas as searing temperatures threaten to combine with low humidity and high winds to fan major bushfires across much of eastern Australia.
Extreme fire danger is current nationwide, with total bans in Victoria and New South Wales as temperatures soar towards 40C in tinderbox conditions.
Sydney and Brisbane are forecast to reach 38C tomorrow, while Melbourne is expecting 36C.
ACT authorities have also extended a fire ban in the national capital until midnight tomorrow after Canberra residents remained under fire alert today with temperatures in the high 30s.
Victoria hot spots
The Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) said the western Wimmera region, Otway Ranges and Mornington Peninsula were potential bushfire hot spots.
North-eastern Victoria, ravaged by bushfires in 2002/03, is also on alert for any outbreak, with increased response levels activated.
Firefighters in the Grampians, in western Victoria, are maintaining a nervous vigil over a 220ha fire they contained with the help of aerial water bombers.
CFA spokesman Travis Hearn said eight small grass and scrub fires since midnight had all been contained quickly but the situation remained "risky".
"It will be extremely high temperatures, with over 40 degrees in some parts of the state, low humidity, wind gusts and a change coming through later in the day," he said.
"We're not sure exactly how much rain will be behind that change and of course storms bring the possibility of lightning, which can cause many fires in a short space of time."
In Queensland, campers were evacuated and more than 1500ha of bushland was burnt after a fire broke out on the Blackdown Tablelands National Park, west of Rockhampton.
Two fires, believed to have been deliberately lit, were spotted burning in the park on Tuesday but had since joined together.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie today warned police would take action against anyone caught lighting fires.
"If a fire is started and someone loses their life, or extensive property, it can be life in jail," Mr Beattie said.
The NSW Fire Brigade has warned residents to be ready for any bushfire threat tomorrow, particularly in the Hunter Valley where it considers the threat the most serious.
"I urge all homeowners in urban areas near bushland in the Sydney, Hunter, Illawarra, Blue Mountains and central coast areas to take the time to ensure they are prepared," Commissioner Greg Mullins said.
About 25 fires in NSW were brought under control yesterday afternoon, including a large blaze at Allambie Heights, on Sydney's northern beaches.
About 1000ha of bush were destroyed in a fire at Condobolin, in the state's central west, while a 407ha blaze at Port Stephens, north of Newcastle, was brought under control.
NSW RFS Commissioner Phil Koperberg has declared a total fire ban for the state until midnight Saturday, with the central and far west, and northern Riverina, of most concern.
In South Australia, a waterbombing aircraft was sent to a bushfire near Burra in the state's mid-north, the largest of seven blazes reported throughout the state.
The Country Fire Service (CFS) said bushfires had been reported at Burra, Port Victoria on the Yorke Peninsula, Sheringa, Yeelana, Piccadilly, Cooke Plains and Kapunda.
The Port Victoria, Sheringa and Yeelana fires had been contained, and the Piccadilly blaze extinguished, a CFS spokesman said.
The township of Burra was not threatened by the bushfire, which was burning in scrubland, he said.
Fire ban extended
In Canberra, where four people died and 400 homes were destroyed in the 2003 bushfires, Emergency Services today extended the fire ban as forecasters predicted hot, dry and windy conditions tomorrow.
The fire danger will be very high to extreme.
You can also type something like '40c in f' in Google and it will do the conversion. Actually 104° does not sound that hot, presuming a dry heat.
Geez, I thought they were starting to celebrate that false holiday, kwanzaa, in Australia.
It's not just the heat that is the issue here. It's the heat accompanied by strong winds, and very dry bushland.
If you get a spark you can get an inferno very easily.
Major fires are a fact of life here - much the same way tornadoes are in parts of the US. They happen every year, they always do significant damage - but occasionally they are far worse than normal.
And at the moment, conditions are primed for that.
Australia has a reputation as a very hot country. In reality it doesn't get much hotter than a lot of other places - it just does it a little more often - and most parts that people live never get cold. Even in midwinter the daytime temperature is generally significantly above freezing across the entire populated region.
An 'I'm still here' Ping.
Hope all is going along well.
Hi Mother! It's darned hot here. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas. Stay cool.