13 Jan 2013

No let-up for fire crews in south-eastern Australia

5:50 am on 13 January 2013

Fire authorities are working in hot and windy conditions to gain the upper hand on fires burning out of control across south-east Australia.

The situation remains serious in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, while crews are on standby in Central Australia.

More than 100 bushfires are burning in New South Wales alone, and 18 are uncontained.

In New South Wales, temperatures have eased around Sydney and on the coast but inland temperatures have risen well into the 40s.

The ABC reports that forecast winds were gusty on Saturday as firefighters concentrated on major fires still burning in the Cooma, Yass and Nowra regions.

An emergency warning has been downgraded for a fire which jumped containment lines at Yarrabin, near Cooma, on Saturday afternoon.

A cool change came through the region after about 15 properties were threatened.

But the fire has already destroyed one home, burnt-out more than 10,000 hectares and destroyed more than 400 sheep.

Fire crews in Tasmania are continuing to battle a huge bushfire in the south-east that has destroyed 170 properties and burnt 24,000 hectares.

The blaze that started at Forcett nine days ago is still burning out of control.

The Fire Service says more than 160 firefighters spent the night backburning on the Tasman Peninsula in the south-east where two bushfires are burning uncontained.

Meanwhile, despite a total fire ban, six people have been charged with deliberately lighting fires in suburbs of Sydney, ABC reports.

Two 16-year-olds appeared in court on Friday, accused of lighting nine fires that threatened homes along a road at Macquarie Fields on Thursday night.

Police said two boys aged 12 and 17 burnt two hectares of grassland behind homes in the south-west of Sydney.

Two men have also been charged over a fire at Tregear on Friday, in which police said they lit up leaves and sticks and then put an aerosol can in the flames.