Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Australia merges blazes in wildfire battle

22 October 2013, 13:00

Lithgow - Fire-fighters on Tuesday deliberately merged two major blazes in south-eastern Australia in a desperate battle to manage the advancing infernos as weather conditions worsen.

Crews made up largely of volunteers worked through the night along trails in heavily forested areas west of Sydney to try to prevent the fires becoming one out-of-control "mega-fire" that could race towards a third blaze nearby.

Fire fighters have been battling wildfires across the state of New South Wales since they flared in high winds and searing heat last week, with more than 200 homes destroyed so far and many others damaged.

In the state's worst fire emergency in almost 50 years, dozens of blazes have been extinguished or contained but 60 are still alight and 14 of them deemed out of control.

The Blue Mountains, a popular tourist area, is the main focus of concerns owing to a huge fire in the Lithgow area with a perimeter of 314km.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the two fires were "deliberately and tactically joined" through back burning - a tactic aimed at creating firebreaks to control the path of blazes.

"That is principally focused on trying to stop those two fires coming together and joining with the fire down at Springwood and Winmalee," he said, referring to a blaze that razed 200 houses last week and which has flared again.

"We are seeing positive results of these very deliberate, very targeted, very decisive strategies being deployed particularly in relation to back burning operations."

‘Paying the price’

The decision to merge the edges of the infernos near Lithgow and Mount Victoria in the Blue Mountains is aimed at starving the fires of the fuel that would otherwise have allowed them to become the "mega-fire" authorities feared on Monday.

But while fire-fighters – 1 100 worked through the night, aided by 84 fire-bombing aircraft - have had "some extraordinary success", Fitzsimmons warned "there's still a way to go" with a storm moving towards the area bringing high winds but little rain.

This translated to "very difficult, very dangerous fire behaviour and fire fighting conditions".

"We have got now probably 24 hours before we see the worst of the weather starting to develop and build across all these fire ground areas," the fire chief added, with strengthening winds and high temperatures expected on Wednesday.

Forecast cooler weather is expected to make conditions more favourable from Thursday.

While claiming some success, with the Lithgow area fire downgraded one notch to a "watch and act" from the highest level "emergency", it continued to threaten properties near the township of Bell and other villages.

"I plead with people don't be complacent," said Fitzsimmons.

In addition to the fires west of Sydney, large tracts of the state remain at risk and under total fire bans.

Wildfires are common in Australia's summer months from December to February. But an unusually dry and warm winter and record spring temperatures has seen the 2013-14 fire season start early with warnings of a long, tough summer ahead.

As debate rages in Australia on a possible link between the infernos and climate change, United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres said wildfires are "absolutely" linked to global warming and increasingly intense heat waves.

She said Australia's new Prime Minister Tony Abbott's decision to repeal a carbon tax on emissions designed to combat climate change put in place by the previous government would come at a high price.

"We are really already paying the price of carbon," she said. "We are paying the price with wildfires, we are paying the price with droughts."

Data from Australia's Bureau of Meteorology show that 2013 is on track to become the country's hottest year on record while last month was the hottest September ever recorded in the country.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...