Thursday, November 19, 2009

New 'Code Red' warning debuts in Australia

News24: Australian officials issued their first ever "catastrophic" wildfire evacuation warning on Tuesday, as a parching heatwave intensified over the country's south. Created in the wake of February's devastating Black Saturday firestorm, which killed 173 people, the new warning urges residents to flee due to conditions being at their most extreme.

It replaced a "stay or go" policy allowing homeowners to remain and fight extremely risky blazes, which came under heavy criticism after the February disaster. Catastrophic or Code Red conditions were declared for the first time in South Australia state on Tuesday, where the temperature was forecast to top 40 degrees Celsius following an earlier record-breaking heatwave.

"In the next couple of days we are going to see high temperatures, very low humidity and very strong winds," said fire service chief Euan Ferguson. "This is the first real test for the summer."

Code Red conditions are considered on a par with those experienced ahead of the Black Saturday fires, which in Victoria state razed entire towns and more than 2 000 homes, Australia's worst natural disaster of modern times. Residents cannot be forcibly evacuated but are strongly advised to leave their property on a Code Red day, which signifies a high risk of death or injury and destruction….

Smoke over Melbourne from bushfires in February 2009, shot by Nick carson , Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License


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