A large bushfire in the Wollemi National Park near Lithgow, west of Sydney Photo: AFP

Bushfires rage out of control across Australia's east


Dozens of bushfires raged out of control across eastern Australia on Friday, blocking escape routes for residents and shuttering the main highway linking major cities on the country's Pacific coast.

More than 90 blazes pockmarked the New South Wales countryside, 50 of them uncontained, tearing through tens of thousands of hectares.

"We are in uncharted territory," New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told public broadcaster ABC. "We have never seen this many fires concurrently at emergency warning level."

Authorities said fires had breached containment lines and forced the closure of the Pacific Highway linking Sydney and Brisbane in two places. Emergency warnings were introduced for 14 flashpoints, bringing warnings to evacuate immediately.

In some areas, residents were told to simply "seek shelter as it is too late to leave".

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

A prolonged drought, strong winds, low humidity and high temperatures have conspired to make the landscape a tinderbox.

"It's a very dynamic, volatile and dangerous set of circumstances," said Fitzsimmons.

Bushfires are common in Australia, but the country is gearing up for busy bushfire season with record temperatures predicted for the summer months.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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The situation seems to worsen year after year. Soon whole towns will disappear in disasters, or a major city.

More needs to be done to increase ability to fight fires and to keep available fuel for fires at a minimum, especially around towns and cities.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Plenty of “Seachange” types who have precious little understanding of and even less direct experience of the worst that nature can throw at them. It’s almost criminal that on such a dry continent, with frequent bushfires, civil preparedness is not far more proactive than it is.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Australia is synonymous with bushfires. This decade's droughts have considered greatly to the problem.

These is another cause that is often overlooked. The indigenous Australians burned the forests regularly for hunting and to gain access to new areas over the 40,000 years or so they were isolated. The burning was so regular that many Australian tress evolved to need fire to germinate. This regular burning of the forests also meant the leaf litter would not build up on forest floors. However, since European settlement the regular burning has been stopped. This has resulted in large build ups of fuel on forest floors. This combined with extreme drought, strong winds and the fact that eucalyptus tree oil is highly flammable have created this tinder box for super fire storms.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Good luck everyone. Scary stuff. Have some extra emergency plans, and stay safe.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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