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Australia’s bushfires could stay out of control for months

Australia fires could be out of control for months, says fire chief, Concern grows over wind changes and high temperatures forecast for later this week, Guardian,   Ben Doherty in Sydney @bendohertycorro
Wed 13 Nov 2019 It could be months before eastern Australia has more than a million hectares of bushfires under control, the New South Wales fire chief has warned, as the country faces one of its worst bushfire outbreaks.After relief that no further lives were lost on Tuesday, concern was growing over unpredictable winds worsening fires in the neighbouring state of Queensland on Wednesday, with much hotter temperatures also predicted for the Sydney area in the coming days.

Gusty winds changing direction are predicted to fan flames in new directions and widen “catastrophic” fire fronts in Queensland and northern NSW, where more than 100 fires – one more than 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres) in size – are burning.

Forecasters warned that “dry lightning” strikes could ignite new blazes, with fires worsening when hotter temperatures arrive over the weekend. Temperatures in Queensland are currently up to 8C higher than average.

Shane Fitzsimmons, the commissioner of the NSW rural fire services, said: “The real challenge is we have an enormous amount of country that is still alight. They won’t have this out for days, weeks, months. Unfortunately the forecast is nothing but above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall over the next few months and we’ve still got summer around the corner.”

The current fires in NSW cover four times the land area that burned during the whole of 2018, according to Fitzsimmons. There are also fires in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

While the extent of the bushfires is less than those in New South Wales in 1974-75 , which destroyed 4.5m hectares (11m acres), forecasters and fire chiefs are concerned that so many fires are already under way before high summer………

Bushfires are a regular occurrence during Australian summers, but the intensity of this year’s fires, and how early in the season they have arrived, have unleashed an acute political debate over the impact of climate change in exacerbating Australia’s fire vulnerability.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, whose conservative coalition government has been consistently criticised over its support for coal-mining and power plants, inaction on climate change, and Australia’s rising carbon emissions, has refused to answers questions on climate change worsening fires………

In one of the largest peacetime mobilisations of Australian forces, the defence minister, Linda Reynolds, is preparing to send army, navy and air force reserve forces – the equivalent of the UK’s Army Reserve – into the fire zone to assist with evacuations and logistics.

The military intervention might even include an unprecedented compulsory call-up of reserve forces, such is the scale of the fire damage. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/12/australia-fires-rage-out-of-control-catastrophic-day

November 14, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change

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