Wildfire destroys more homes in southeast Australia

World Yen Doran 03-Feb-2020
A wildfire rages out of control. © Mark Wilson | Dreamstime.com

The wildfires continue to swallow up dozens of homes overnight in Australia’s southeast. According to the officials however, the wildfire threat had diminished by Feb. 1 across New South Wales state and around the national capital Canberra.

Bega Valley Mayor Kristy McBain said the damage in her region of 240 kilometres (150 miles), south of Canberra had yet to be assessed by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.

Additional homes have been lost in the Bega Valley with the overnight fires burning more than 400 houses in the current fire season.

Rural Fire Service spokesman Greg Allan said damage assessment teams had yet to confirm media reports of homes lost near the village of Bumbalong, 92 kilometres south of Canberra.

A dangerous fire threatened southern Canberra and the nearby village of Tharwa. The fire had burnt 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) of forest and farmland by Sunday  (Feb. 2), with a perimeter of 148 kilometres (92 miles) long, the Australian Capital Territory Emergency Services Agency said.

Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister Andrew Barr said a state of emergency for Canberra and its surroundings would remain in place until at least Monday (Feb. 3).

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

Fires across southern Australia have claimed at least 33 lives since September, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and razed more than 10.6 million hectares.