Hundreds of weary firefighters had managed by Sunday (22 December) to establish some measure of control over massive bush fires which had blazed out of control in two Australian states during the previous week.
Hundreds of weary firefighters had managed by Sunday (22 December) to establish some measure of control over massive bush fires which had blazed out of control in two Australian states during the previous week. The fires had threatened towns and farms, and they stretched almost continuously across western New South Wales - from the Queensland border to the north, into Victoria in the south.
On Friday (20 December) a state of emergency had been declared in the southern half of Western Australia as the bush fires blazed out of control in heatwave conditions.
The flames were feeding on thick undergrowth that had sprung up after the flooding earlier this year, and they were estimated to have burned out more than 2,500,000 acres (1,200,000 hectares) of grazing and bush land in New South Wales.
The biggest fire in the state was near Cobar, 450 miles (720 Kms) north-west of Sydney, where two blazes linked to form a front 160 miles (250 Kms) wide. About 500 men, including troops, were brought in to try to get it under control.
In the Western Australian state capital, Perth, the temperature was 42 degrees centigrade (108 Fahrenheit), and the firemen had to battle with fires near the town in the goldfields area of the interior around Kalgoorlie, and in many agricultural districts.
By Sunday, fire breaks had been set up in western New South Wales by firefighters using bulldozers, and they seemed to be successfully heading off the three major fires threatening Cobar.
In Western Australia, wind changes and lower temperatures were helping firemen to contain the fire moving down on the city of Kalgoorlie.