On Friday, officials from Australian announced a state of emergency for Canberra, the capital city of Australia and its surrounding regions as rising temperatures along with strong winds risked to propel a large bushfire beyond the control of firefighters.
Andrew Barr, Chief Minister for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), stated the decision to announce the first state of emergency since the fatal wildfires in 2003 hinted at the possible danger over the weekend.
Officials on Friday stated that an out of control fire in the south of the ACT, on the doorstep of Canberra, had widened to 185 sq km, almost 8% of the territory’s landmass.
“This fire may become very unpredictable. It may become uncontrollable,” Barr told reporters in a televised briefing. “The combination of extreme heat, wind, and a dry landscape will place suburbs in Canberra’s south at risk.”
On Monday, Bushfires eased near Canberra, Australia’s capital, as temperatures decreased, however, officials warned heavy smoke was set to blow into the city due to a shift in the wind.
While a fire kept burning uncontrollably in the southwest of Canberra, warnings were downgraded to “advice” for people in the area, with no properties under threat.
Over the past few weeks, about one-fourth of the land in the Australian Capital Territory, home to Canberra, has been scorched by wildfires. The fires have been fueled by hot and windy conditions. However, temperatures fell on Monday to around 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit).
“A change in wind direction is expected to bring heavy smoke over urban areas of Canberra,” the Emergency Services of Australian Capital Territory (ACT) said on its web site.
Firefighters in New South Wales were combating blazes in the southeast of the state, where seven homes were devastated over the weekend, the NSW Rural Fire Service said. Conditions improved on Monday due to showers and cooler temperatures.
The prolonged bushfire season of Australia has killed 33 people and an approximate of 1 billion native animals since September. About 2,500 homes have been devastated and more than 11.7 million hectares (45,175 square miles) of tinder-dry bushland have been scorched.
Aim for net-zero greenhouse emissions
The fire crisis resulted in 274 scientists to ask the Australian government (which has declined to set targets for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions) to take more dire action and walk toward net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Australia’s dangerous fire-weather is virtually certain to worsen in the future with ongoing human-induced climate change, making fire management increasingly challenging,” the climate and fire experts from all over the world explained in an open letter.
On Monday, industry group Energy Networks Australia said that the fires have also destroyed thousands of kilometers of power lines. It has damaged more than 5,000 power poles and cut power to 80,000 homes. “The devastation has been unprecedented,” it said.
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