‘Terrible conditions’ for Australia firefighters in record heat wave – ‘Imagine being in this heat next to a blast furnace’Posted by Jim at Friday, January 18, 2013
By Ilya Gridneff
19 January 2013
(Sydney Morning Herald) – Hundreds of firefighters battled the most atrocious conditions imaginable on Friday to contain about a dozen out-of-control blazes from the state's far south to the Hunter Valley, desperately hoping a late cool change would bring relief.
By late on Friday, fires near Cessnock, Coonabarabran, Young, and around Bega were still causing extreme danger for residents and firefighters, as authorities confirmed two homes had been lost in the Bega area.
The Commissioner of the Rural Fire Service, Shane Fitzsimmons, said dry winds and hotter than expected temperatures played havoc with firefighters. ''This has made for very difficult conditions and there are a lot of very active fires; there has not been the cloud cover we expected,'' he said. […]
At one stage the RFS Deputy Commissioner, Rob Rogers, tweeted about the plight of those on the front line: ''Really terrible conditions for firefighters. Imagine being in this heat next to a blast furnace.'' […]
Flare-ups in and around Sydney caused major headaches as temperatures soared in the west and south-west suburbs of Penrith and Campbelltown.
An emergency warning was issued mid-afternoon for a grass fire out of control near the University of Western Sydney in the Campbelltown area, but it was quickly downgraded as it was brought under control.
During what was one of its busiest days ever, the RFS used 200 trucks and 60 aircraft to try and halt the march of destruction which has already scorched 100,000 hectares [386 square miles] of NSW land.
A fire in Cessnock is also out of control and has broken containment lines. ''The fire started yesterday [Thursday] and has reignited under extreme fire conditions this afternoon,'' a spokesman said.
A bushfire in the Deans Gap area of Morton National Park, near Sussex Inlet, covering 9114 hectares, remains uncontained and the RFS said it may yet jump their containment lines.
Fires in the Kybeyan Range area 20 kilometres east of Cooma, in the Bega Valley, south-east of Mudgee, are also continuing to burn out of control. […]