Bushfire danger warning for Australia

by IANS |

Canberra, Dec 8 (IANS) Amid sweltering weather, a catastrophic fire danger warning has been issued for South Australia (SA).

Temperatures were forecast to exceed 40 degrees Celsius across most of SA on Friday, with strong winds and dry lightning exacerbating the fire risk, Xinhua news agency reported.

The SA branch of the Country Fire Service (CFS), a volunteer service that has responsibility for firefighting in the state's regional areas, on Friday warned the southern Australian state was facing its most significant fire weather days in years.

The weather forecast has prompted the CFS to declare catastrophic fire danger ratings for five of the state's 15 districts and extreme fire danger ratings for five more, including the state capital of Adelaide and its surrounding suburbs.

Under a catastrophic fire warning, people are urged to leave bushfire risk areas, with any fires that do start and take hold likely to result in lost lives and property.

A total fire ban has been declared for every region under catastrophic and extreme ratings.

SA's CFS Chief Officer Brett Loughlin told reporters on Thursday that any fires that did start would be "incredibly difficult" to control, warning that strong winds would likely ground firefighting aircraft.

"The dry lightning creates a real risk of fire starting anywhere these thunderstorms occur, unfortunately the forecast is a broad area of dry lightning and thunderstorm activity," he said.

"It is crucial that people do not rely on firefighters and aviation assets to save them."

He said Friday's forecast conditions were similar to those that ignited the 2015 Pinery bushfire, which killed two people and destroyed more than 470 buildings over seven days between November and December northeast of Adelaide.

Residents of areas facing extreme fire risk on Friday have been urged to prepare a bushfire survival plan.

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