High winds & record temperatures fanned fires in Australia

High winds , record temperatures , fanned fires , AustraliaTIL Desk/ High winds and record temperatures fanned fires in south-east Australia, after the prime minister warned of a “very dangerous day”. More than 130 fires are currently burning in New South Wales, 40 of which have not been contained. An uncontrolled fire is burning by the Tasman peninsula, near areas already hit by blazes over the weekend. Teams in Victoria are also fighting a blaze, as Australia’s heat wave continues. Four areas in New South Wales have been given a “catastrophic” fire danger rating, meaning that if fires break out they will be uncontrollable and fast-moving, so residents should leave. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said residents had to stay alert. “The word catastrophic is being used for good reason,” she said. “So it is very important that people keep themselves safe, that they listen to local authorities and local warnings. “This is a very dangerous day.”

More than 100 houses were destroyed in Tasmania over the weekend by fire. Teams have been searching through destroyed buildings but no deaths have been reported. A blaze between Forcett and the Tasman Peninsula – from which many people were evacuated by boat over the weekend – has been upgraded to dangerous, with residents instructed to go to a local boat ramp or beach. In western Victoria, a fire in Kentbruck is burning out of control. More than 7,000 hectares (17,000 acres) of pine plantation has been destroyed and the blaze is now threatening the community of Drik Drik. A fire was also reported in an electrical substation building at the Lucas Heights nuclear research facility in the south of Sydney. The fire, believed to have been caused by an electrical failure, has been brought under control, local media report. Cooler winds from the south should alleviate the heat in coming days, but officials warned that the southern front was moving slowly.

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