Rain put out Australian wildfire but caused flooding

World Yen Doran 09-Feb-2020
ID 54535671 © Dave Bredeson | Dreamstime.com

Torrential rain lashing Australia’s east coast on Feb. 9 has extinguished a major wildfire but caused widespread flash flooding around the area.

The rain also put out the Currowan Fire south of Sydney late Feb. 8, which destroyed 312 homes and razed 500,000 hectares over 74 days, said the New South Wales state Rural Fire Service.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons hoped the heavy rain would move inland from the coast and drench more major fires that have burned for months.

Fitzsimmons bid farewell at a Sydney Airport hotel on Sunday to 21 American and 21 Canadian firefighters who were heading home after their deployment battling Australian blazes.

A severe weather warning was in place on Feb. 8 along most of the New South Wales coast and parts of Queensland to the north with heavy rain, damaging winds, abnormally high tides and dangerous surf forecast.

The State Emergency Service reported six flood rescues overnight near Grafton, north of Sydney. They were mostly people who became stranded while attempting to drive through floodwater.

In recent days, some of the east coast towns have received their heaviest rainfall in five decades.

On Australia’s northwest coast, Tropical Cyclone Damien made landfall late Feb. 8 as a category 3 storm and weakened as it moved inland.

Several buildings had lost roofs, but authorities had yet to assess the full extent of the damage on Sunday.

Australian wildfires have killed at least 33 and destroyed more than 3,000 homes in an unprecedented fire season that began late in a record-dry 2019.