Blazing away

Bushfires continue to rage in Australia, leaving a trail of destruction

Published: Wednesday 31 March 1999

 Bushfires in Australia have d Bushfires in New South Wales, Australia, have claimed the lives of five people and injured 27 in the past three months. In addition to the 4,500 sheep that were killed, the fires consumed about 8.91 hectares of grassland.

There are about 22 fires blazing across New South Wales -- all thought to have been sparked by some of the estimated 13,000 overnight lightning strikes on tinder-dry bush land. The fires have destroyed many homes, and led to the evacuation of thousands of people.

Meanwhile, as the fires continue to rage near Crookwell, 177 kilometres southwest of Sydney, the New South Wales state prime minister Bob Carr has declared a bushfire emergency. The declaration gives rural fire service commissioner Phil Koperberg the power to call on the state's entire bushfire fighting resources to control the blaze.

More than 400 fire-fighters with 60 tankers, two planes and a helicopter are battling to put out the fire south of the Abercrombie river. The fires were fuelled by winds gusting up to 58 km per hour, said a spokesperson of the New South Wales' Agriculture Department.

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