Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Australia fire crews face extreme weather in NSW

BBC: More than 3,000 firefighters in Australia are battling devastating bushfires raging across New South Wales as weather conditions worsen. "This will be as bad as it gets," Rural Fire Service chief Shane Fitzsimmons said, adding there was "real potential for more loss of homes and life".

High temperatures, low humidity and strong winds of up to 100km/h (60mph) were forecast for Wednesday. In total, 71 fires are burning across the state, 29 of which are uncontained.

Hundreds more firefighters have been deployed to the Blue Mountains, to the west of Sydney, to work alongside the 1,000 already there, making it one of the largest firefighting contingents ever assembled in the state's history.

Residents have been urged to leave affected areas. Hundreds of nursing home residents were evacuated late on Tuesday and all schools in the area are closed.

"We are all in this together and we are going to get through this day. If you haven't prepared yourself, for those in the Blue Mountains, now is the time to leave," NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said at a news conference on Wednesday morning. "We hope, of course, today's conditions and potential events do not occur. We've planned for the worst but we continue to hope for the best."...

Smoke from the State Mine Fire over Sydney, October 17, 2013, shot by RazorEyeEdits, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

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