| 4.8°C Dublin

Australian fire sparked by helicopter light threatening capital area

Close

A wildfire threatening property glows on the hills near Clear Range, south of the Australian capital, Canberra. Photo: Rick Rycroft/AP

A wildfire threatening property glows on the hills near Clear Range, south of the Australian capital, Canberra. Photo: Rick Rycroft/AP

AP

A wildfire threatening property glows on the hills near Clear Range, south of the Australian capital, Canberra. Photo: Rick Rycroft/AP

The Australian capital area has declared a state of emergency because of an out-of-control forest fire burning erratically to its south.

It is the first fire emergency for the Australian Capital Territory since 2003, when wildfires killed four people and destroyed almost 500 homes in a single day.

The threat is posed by a blaze on Canberra's southern fringe which has razed more than 53,000 acres since it was sparked by heat from a military helicopter landing light on Monday, the Emergency Services Agency said.

"The state of emergency sets a clear expectation for our community that we need you to be vigilant," emergency services minister Mick Gentleman said.

Residents of southern Canberra suburbs and surrounding villages have been advised to prepare to either protect their homes or evacuate.

Unprecedented fires across southern Australia have claimed at least 33 lives since September.

Irish Independent