State of emergency as bushfires rage in Australia

BUXTON, AUSTRALIA (AFP) – A state of emergency was declared in Australia’s most populated region yesterday as an unprecedented heatwave fanned out-of-control bushfires, destroying homes and smothering huge areas with a toxic smoke.

As thousands of firefighters battled blazes, temperatures neared 50 degrees Celsius in some places and authorities warned the extreme weather conditions could get even worse.

Australia endures bushfires every year but the early and intense start to this season, along with the record temperatures, has fuelled concerns about global warming.

In New South Wales, Australia’s most populated state with Sydney as its capital, more than 100 bushfires were burning yesterday, many of them out of control.

A helicopter drops fire retardant to protect a property in Balmoral, 150 kilometres southwest of Sydney. PHOTO: AFP