CBC: Searing temperatures, strong winds complicate Australia wildfire battle

Government announces call-up of army reservists to support firefighters

Thomson Reuters · Posted: Jan 03, 2020 9:49 AM ET | Last Updated: January 3

Firefighters tackle a wildfire near Batemans Bay in New South Wales, Australia, on Friday. Firefighters were set for a dangerous day on Saturday as fires in New South Wales and Victoria states were expected to burn uncontrollably due to temperatures above 40 C and shifting, strong winds. (Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images)

Bushfires were burning dangerously out of control on Australia’s east coast on Saturday, fuelled by soaring temperatures and strong winds that had firefighters battling to save lives and property.

Authorities have said conditions could be worse than New Year’s Eve on Tuesday, when out-of-control fires forced thousands of residents and summer vacationers to seek refuge on beaches as the flames burned massive tracts of land.

The government announced an unprecedented call-up of army reservists to support firefighters as well other resources including a third navy ship equipped for disaster and humanitarian relief.

“Conditions beginning to deteriorate quickly on NSW (New South Wales) southern firegrounds,” the Bureau of Meteorology said in a tweet.

“Heat and wind are building which is increasing fire activity.”

In South Australia, two people died on Kangaroo Island, a popular holiday spot not far off the coast, taking the national fire toll this week to 12. Twenty-one people remain unaccounted for in Victoria, down from 28 reported missing Friday.

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