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'An awful day': catastrophic conditions fuel Australia's bushfires

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:36s - Published < > Embed
'An awful day': catastrophic conditions fuel Australia's bushfires

'An awful day': catastrophic conditions fuel Australia's bushfires

Powerful winds and high temperatures are exacerbating bushfires across Australia, with blazes encircling Sydney burning at a dangerous level.

David Doyle reports.

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'An awful day': catastrophic conditions fuel Australia's bushfires

Catastrophic conditions exacerbated massive bushfires across Australia's New South Wales on Saturday (December 21) in what the state's rural fire chief described as "an awful day".

That day included one person found dead inside a firezone in South Australia, and two blazes around Sydney burning at an emergency level.

People have been asked to delay travel at the start of the Christmas holiday period - warned of the unpredictability of the fires due to high winds and temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Farenheit).

A cooling but powerful wind swept through New South Wales on Saturday - significantly lowering temperatures, but also creating the risk that the fires would spread.

Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said conditions were rated "catastrophic", the highest level of danger.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW SOUTH WALES RURAL FIRE SERVICE, SHANE FITZSIMMONS, SAYING: "Catastrophic fire dangers are as bad as it gets.

These are the very worst of conditions and given that we've got a landscape with so much fire active and burning in it you've got a recipe for very serious concern and a very dangerous day." He added that authorities wouldn't be able to get on top of the fires until "we get some decent rain" - but the Bureau of Meteorology forecasts no significant rain in the next couple of months.

Close to 100 fires are burning across New South Wales and on Thursday (December 19) night two firefighters were killed when a tree fell on their truck.

Shortly after the deaths, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was rushing back from a family holiday in Hawaii - a trip that drew sharp criticism as the crisis deepened.

He was expected to arrive later on Saturday.




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