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Australia wildfires not yet contained fully

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 10:09

Zeenews Bureau

Tasmania: The scores of wildfires that destroyed over 100 homes and other buildings in southern Australia have reduced after temperatures cooled from record highs, officials said on Wednesday.

However, the firefighters and higher authorities have warned that hot and dry weather is likely spark a deadly inferno in the state of New South Wales in the days to come.

A change in wind direction brought temperatures off record highs in the southern state, but the hot conditions moved further north where temperatures were expected to reach 36 degrees Celsius (96 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Queensland capital, Brisbane.

The fire danger north was rated as "very high," lower than the "catastrophic" warnings issued on Tuesday in NSW where temperatures reached a record high of 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit) in Sydney.

The "catastrophic warning" was lifted Wednesday but the fire risk was still considered "severe" in the northeast of the state. In "severe" conditions, the NSW Rural Fire Service warns that a fire could be "unpredictable, uncontrollable and very fast moving."

Australia recorded its hottest day on record on Monday with a nationwide average of 40.33C, narrowly breaking a 1972 record of 40.17C.
Amid the cool-down, the national capital, Canberra, dropped from a high of 36C on Tuesday to 28C, and Sydney dropped from 43C to 23C.

No deaths have been reported, although around 100 people have not been accounted for since last week when a fire destroyed around 90 homes in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart.

Police spokeswoman Lisa Stingel said it is likely most of those people simply have not checked in with officials.

Thousands of cattle and sheep as well as wildlife are suspected to have been killed.

In Victoria state, north of Tasmania, a fire injured six people, destroyed four homes and caused the evacuation of the farming community of Carngham, country fire authority operations officer Ian Morley said.
Cooler conditions have brought relief to firefighters who will work through the day to build earth breaks to fully contain the fire ahead of warmer temperatures forecast for Friday, Morley said.

North of Victoria in New South Wales, Australia`s most populous state, firefighters were battling 141 fires, including 31 that had not yet been contained.

The fires have been most devastating in Tasmania where at least 128 homes have been destroyed since Friday. Hundreds of people remain at two evacuation centres in the state`s south, as fires continue to burn.

With Agency inputs

First Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 10:08

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