Bushfires reach ACT, Canberra on high alert

Source:Reuters Published: 2020/2/2 17:18:48

A helicopter works at the site of a bushfire on the border between Canberra and Queanbeyan in Australia, Jan. 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Changchang)

Australia's capital, Canberra, was on high alert on Sunday as bushfires burned nearby, while smoke and dust covered large parts of the country's east, prompting warnings from health authorities.

Fire in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), home to the capital city, has spread to more than 55,000 hectares, close to a quarter of the territory's entire landmass.

Local fire authorities said cooler conditions would support containment efforts on Sunday but that residents should closely monitor any change in fire activity.

There were fears on Saturday that the blaze could reach Canberra's southern suburbs, threatening homes and lives as they did in 2003 when fires destroyed almost 500 houses and led to four deaths.

But containment lines supported by airdrops of fire retardant helped keep the blaze back, even in the face of wild winds and elevated temperatures which only fell to 26.7 C in the capital overnight, according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.

Australia's devastating and prolonged bushfire season has killed 33 people and an estimated 1 billion native animals since September. About 2,500 homes have been destroyed and more than 11.7 million hectares of tinder-dry bushland have been razed.

The fire in the southern tip of the ACT also crossed into the state of New South Wales (NSW) and destroyed homes, authorities said on Sunday.

In NSW, 63 fires were burning across the state on Sunday morning, with more than a third uncontained. NSW Health issued a statement saying air quality would be poor in parts of the state, including Sydney, due to a combination of bushfire smoke and dust blowing in from drought-hit areas.



blog comments powered by Disqus