independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Wildfires blaze across Australia

A water bomber works over a large fire burning throughout Victoria's Grampians region. (AP/Country Fire Authority)

Dozens of wildfires are burning out of control in heatwave conditions across southern Australia, with at least one death reported.

Authorities said 68 fires were burning across Victoria state and another 16 blazing across neighbouring South Australia.

Both states have endured several days of temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), with winds intensifying the fire risk as they gather pace.

Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay said one person died at home at Roses Gap in the Grampians region, north west of the state capital of Melbourne.

Mr Lay said 12 of the fires burning across Victoria, Australia's second most populous state, have been started deliberately.

Victoria fire commissioner Craig Lapsley said a blaze burning over 52,000 acres of woodland near the Grampians generated a seven-mile high convection column - a column of rising hot air - that was triggering lightning and sparking spot fires.

Residents had been advised to evacuate their homes, but several people decided to stay and protect their properties.

"They have a right to do so ... but they also take on that risk themselves," Mr Lapsley said. "They risk the fact that these fires will be very intense and erratic this afternoon."

Fire conditions in Victoria are at their worst since 2009, when wildfires killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.

AP

Press Association

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