Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cool change aids Australia firefighters

Terra Daily via AFP: A drop in temperatures helped firefighters battling blazes across Australia Wednesday but up to 30 wildfires were still raging out of control, destroying a handful of homes and forcing people to flee.

After facing one of the highest-risk fire days in its history on Tuesday, residents in hard-hit New South Wales state woke to much cooler conditions as a southerly change dropped temperatures significantly.

While temperatures topped 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit) in Sydney Tuesday, they were forecast to peak at just 25 C a day later, while Victorian capital Melbourne was down to 20 C.

The ratings on many bushfires were downgraded with none now at the "catastrophic" level, which signifies fires will be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast-moving, with evacuation the only safe option.

But NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons warned against complacency with new fronts breaking out despite the colder weather. "It's been a long busy night for firefighters on the ground, for incident controllers working out of those fire control centres and of course the communities affected by these fires," he told ABC television....

Aerial view of fire at Copping/Forcett at around 4pm on 4 Jan 2013 - view from window of an airplane leaving Hobart Airport. Shot by Chuq, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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