Australia girds for worst as bushfire season comes early
Australia battled to contain around 160 bushfires in the east of the country Monday, an early start to a wildfire season that authorities warn could be the worst in decades.
Drought and strong winds have turned swathes of Queensland and New South Wales to tinder, prompting fires that have already damaged dozens of buildings and forced thousands of people to evacuate.
Australia's hot, dry climate makes bushfires a regular occurrence, but scientists say climate change is making conditions ever-more combustible.
Government-backed researchers have already predicted the next six months of southern hemisphere spring and summer have the potential to be an active season because of a very warm and dry start to the year.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services assistant commissioner Brad Commens told AFP the early bushfire season had caught authorities off-guard.
Many of his staff would ordinarily be working on planning and preparation this early in September, but they have been called to action instead.
At this point, we're fairly early in the fire season so it's difficult to predict how long this will go on for, but it's certainly not what I've seen over the last 30 years, he said.
Without significant rain or without a significant weather change, I think we're in for the long haul.
The fire season usually starts in the far north of Queensland in September and slowly progresses down Australia's eastern states, hitting New South Wales around Christmas, and Victoria and Tasmania in January and February.
But it is already hitting southern Queensland and New South Wales -- where there are 70 fires and 99 percent of the state was declared in drought last May.
On Friday, a fire tore through the small town of Tenterfield, destroying around 25 buildings including five houses.
The town's mayor, Pete Petty, told AFP it was horrific to see parts of the town burning. The townspeople were in shock. It was like being in an apocalypse.
Like scientists, Petty fears this is just the beginning. We're in the middle of the worst drought in living memory, he said.
(2019/09/11 08:36)Click Here for Japanese Translation
AFP-JIJI PRESS NEWS JOURNAL
- 09/17 08:53 Rod Stewart reveals prostate cancer fight
- 09/17 08:45 US park rangers debunk myth on tossing banana peels, apple cores
- 09/17 08:31 Artist hopes gold toilet taken by 'Robin Hood' types
- 09/17 08:23 Turkey says Cyprus 'ghost town' to be opened
- 09/13 12:08 NBA star James backs bill to let college athletes earn endorsement money
- 09/13 11:52 Indonesia forest fires surge, stoking global warming fears
- 09/13 09:21 Mercedes embark on 'new mission' in Formula E
- 09/13 08:56 Silver spoon to silver screen-- Downton Abbey makes cinematic debut
- 09/13 08:36 Maori protest Air NZ bid to trademark 'kia ora' greeting
- 09/13 08:27 Leonardo da Vinci's mechanical lion goes on display in Paris
- 09/12 10:06 Water discovered for first time in atmosphere of habitable exoplanet
- 09/12 09:21 Jordan donates $1 million to Dorian relief
- 09/12 09:01 Take that, rat! New York turns to alcohol in rodent fight
- 09/12 08:47 Shorter people run higher risk of diabetes-- study
- 09/12 08:39 A shocking find-- new high-voltage electric eels revealed
- 09/12 08:31 Climate protesters dye Zurich river green
- 09/11 09:57 Largest flying animal in history identified-- study
- 09/11 09:17 Aussie boy battles to save croc 'friend'
- 09/11 09:07 Following Neanderthals' footsteps to learn how they lived
- 09/11 08:55 NBA banning 'ninja-style' headbands - report
- 09/11 08:36 Australia girds for worst as bushfire season comes early
- 09/11 08:30 AI as good as Mahler? Austrian orchestra performs symphony with twist
- 09/10 12:02 AFP joins BBC initiative to fight misinformation
- 09/10 11:19 AFP photographer wins top photojournalism award
- 09/10 09:45 Ex N.Korea prisoner says he was CIA spy-- German media
- 09/10 09:25 Medvedev proud as 'amazing summer' ends with US Open final defeat
- 09/10 08:50 Pakistan sentences three in infamous wedding video killing
- 09/10 08:29 President Macron apologised for 'scandalous anthem gaffe'-- Albanian PM
- 09/09 11:24 Flies overwhelm Pakistan's Karachi in monsoon 'hell'
- 09/09 09:37 'Deepfake challenge' aims to find tools to fight manipulation
- 09/09 09:16 Fans flock to 'Downton Abbey' castle ahead of film debut
- 09/09 08:58 Austrian football stadium turned into a forest
- 09/09 08:48 H&M suspends Brazil leather purchases over Amazon fires
- 09/09 08:41 French rooster triumphs in battle over right to crow