INTRODUCTION: In Australia, bush fires have destroyed a total of about 100,000 square miles (about 250,000 square kilometres) as the country swelters under the hottest temperatures for 16 years in many areas.
INTRODUCTION: In Australia, bush fires have destroyed a total of about 100,000 square miles (about 250,000 square kilometres) as the country swelters under the hottest temperatures for 16 years in many areas. Bush fires in the Northern Territory have destroyed the greatest acreage, but the fires are at their most dangerous around the big cities -- and as the temperature in outlying Sydney suburbs hit 46 degrees centigrade (115 Fahrenheit) on Tuesday (1 February) fire fighters were trying to stop a blaze in the north of the city from reaching a spastics' centre and an old folks home.
SYNOPSIS: The blaze had jumped the main Wakehurst Parkway, and firemen decided to make their stand around a pipeline which serves beachside suburbs. The scrub had been cleared on either side of the pipeline and the fire teams also succeeded in saving this spastic home and dozens of private residences in the path of the fire. it had earlier run through nearly two miles (3 kilometres) of bush in 20 minutes.
A wind change in late afternoon lowered the temperature a little and helped the fire fighters. Large numbers of people were enjoying the sun on Sydney's beaches but those with properties near the fires were transfixed as they watched the firemen trying to save their homes. Some joined the firemen.
The fire destroyed more than 1,000 hectares (about 2,400 acres) of bushland. Bush fires are common in Australia during the summer but firemen say this was the biggest blaze on the north side of Sydney harbour in living memory. A pall of smoke hung over the whole city until the fire was eventually brought under control on Tuesday evening.
Not all homes could be saved. The fire did tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to property, but no lives were lost.