Australia: Heatwave triggers bushfire alert
By Rowena Dela Rosa Yoon Jan 02, 2012 3:41PM UTC
Australia is on bushfire alert as a heatwave spreads across the southern states of Victoria and South Australia, with temperatures soaring to over 40 degrees Celsius.
Melbourne and Adelaide started the year with a daytime high of 40 degrees Celsius, AAP reported. Sydney and Brisbane, meawhile, are reported to have a more tolerable levels at around 26-28 degrees Celsius, while Perth experiences around 31 degrees.
Holiday-makers who are heading to the bush in the southern states are warned not to put up campfires. Fire and safety authorities have already issued bushfire alert warnings to caution residents and tourists to be bushfire-ready.
A total fire ban has been issued in many regions in Victoria including tourist destinations such as the Southern Grampians, Apollo Bay, Warnambool, and other southwestern areas. The fire ban strictly disallows campers to build a campfire during the night while frolickers are also not allowed to light up a barbecue grill.
In 2009, the bush fire famously called the Black Saturday razed 450,000 ha (1,100,000 acres) in Victoria sending residential, agricultural, and touristic areas into ashes. Affected areas included Kinglake and Whittlesea, Marysville, Central Gippsland, Beechworth, and to as far as the old gold town of Bendigo bringing to a total of 170 districts in ruins.
In 2006, the Grampians National Park was engulfed by another massive bushfire which burnt 130,000 hectares — or 47 per cent of the park.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimated that over a million of animals have perished in these bushfires. Other wildlife species have suffered from severe burns. Koalas and kangaroos which inhabit most of the bush habitat are most affected while the Leadbeater’s Possum, Victoria’s faunal emblem, is under further threat to extinction.
South Australia is reported to have issued total fire ban on 13 districts out of 15.
Victorian Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley urged people—especially campers— to take extra care amid extreme heat conditions. He said most of the earlier fires started with campfires.