S.E. Australia ablaze with brush fires
November 28, 1997
Strong winds hinder firefighters in New South Wales
Web posted at: 1:11 p.m. EST (1811 GMT)
SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Strong winds hampered efforts to
contain dozens of brush fires Friday, and officials warned
that a hot, dry weekend could make the situation in New South
Wales a repeat of 1994, when deadly fires devastated large
areas of Australia's most populous state.
The neighboring states of Victoria and South Australia were
also badly hit with fires.
The fires were no immediate threat to property, and there
were no reports of injuries, a spokesman for the New South
Wales Rural Fire Service said.
"Most of these fires have been started by lightning strikes,
so most of them are remote and the prompt response of fire
crews has also helped," spokesman Gilly Paxton said.
Hot, dry conditions make it hard to contain brush fires
in New South Wales Friday
Temperatures in the region have reached 40 degrees Celsius
(104 degrees Fahrenheit). The brush fires were being fanned
by winds gusting up to 100 kilometers per hour (60 mph).
Fires in the Blue Mountains, about 50 kilometers (30 miles)
west of Sydney, and Hunter Valley, about 300 kilometers (186
miles) to the northwest were being monitored closely, with
aircraft dropping water bombs in a bid to prevent property
from being threatened.
Subtropical Australia regularly suffers major brush fires in
its southern spring and summer months -- even without the
current El Nino weather pattern, which has delayed the
arrival of autumn rains.
This year's fires are but a fraction of the 800 reported in
1994, when they reached Sydney's suburbs, destroying hundreds
of homes and killing four people.
The 1983 "Ash Wednesday" fires killed 76 people and burned
more than 2,400 houses in Victoria and South Australia.
Correspondent John Raedler and Reuters contributed to this report.