News / Asia

Firefighters, Officials Race to Save Homes from Australian Bushfire

  • Firefighters spray foam on smoldering bush to help reduce reflash fires after a blaze swept through Faulconbridge, west of Sydney, Oct. 24, 2013.
  • Rural Fire Service frefighters take a break after trying to extinguish a fire approaching homes near the Blue Mountains suburb of Faulconbridge, west of Sydney, Oct. 24, 2013.
  • Firefighters control flames during hazard reduction in Bilpin, Australia, Oct. 23, 2013.
  • A female Rural Fire Service firefighter walks through a burnt area after trying to extinguish a small fire approaching homes near the Blue Mountains suburb of Blackheath, west of Sydney, Oct. 23, 2013.
  • Jennifer Schweinsberg and her son David walk around the back yard of their destroyed family home in Sunny Ridge Drive in Winmaleem, near Sydney, Oct. 22, 2013.
  • A firefighter tries to control flames near houses in Bilpin, west of Sydney, Oct. 22, 2013.
  • A firefighter watches as smoke covers a road in Bilpin, west of Sydney, Oct. 22, 2013.
  • Local resident Alan Seaman looks inside a safe in the remains of his home that was destroyed by a fire in the Blue Mountains suburb of Winmalee, west of Sydney, Oct. 21, 2013.
  • Houses can be seen behind a burnt-out car and bicycle after a fire destroyed them in the Blue Mountains suburb of Winmalee, west of Sydney, Oct. 21, 2013.
  • In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, smoke rises from a fire near Lithgow, west of Sydney, Oct. 17, 2013.

Wildfires Ravage Southern Australia

Phil Mercer
Firefighters in eastern Australia are racing to contain huge outbreaks that officials fear could merge to create a “mega blaze” west of Sydney. Authorities in New South Wales have said that the region is facing an “unparalleled" emergency.
 
More than 50 fires continue to burn; about a dozen are out of control, and officials say three particularly large fires could join to form one monstrous wall of flame. Suburbs on the edge of Sydney could then be threatened by outbreaks that are tearing through parts of the Blue Mountains.
 
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
More than 200 homes have been destroyed so far and many more have been damaged in the worst fire disaster in New South Wales in nearly 50 years.
 
A state of emergency has been declared, giving officials power to order people from their homes.
 
Mike Gallacher, the New South Wales Minister for Emergency Services, said the measures will help the firefighting effort.
  
“It will primarily be… police doing the forced evacuations if we need to go down that path. But [we will] also [be] working with the paid professionals in terms of making decisions within dealing with the fire threat. For example, if it's apparent that they need to cut off electricity or cut off gas utilities to an area, they've got the power to do that. They've got the power to pull down buildings and demolish buildings if they have to. They are extraordinary powers,” said Gallacher.

WATCH: Related video
Australia Struggles to Control Wildfiresi
X
October 21, 2013 7:22 AM
Firefighters are continuing to battle some of the most destructive wildfires to ever strike Australia's most populous state, with higher temperatures and winds expected to intensify the danger in the coming days.

Officials are playing down earlier suggestions that all communities in the Blue Mountains, where 76,000 people live, could be evacuated. Instead, warnings will be issued to communities directly at risk.
 
Helicopters dropping water are supporting 2,000 firefighters, but their efforts are at the mercy of the weather.
 
Strong winds are expected to return later in the week, heaping more pressure on exhausted emergency crews and anxious residents.
 
What firefighters fear is a repeat of the hot temperatures, tinder dry conditions and gusty winds that fuelled outbreaks at the end of last week.
 
In February 2009, 173 people were killed in bushfires that tore through parts of Victoria state in Australia's worst natural disaster.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid