Australia set to swelter again

02:19, Jan 17 2013
Tasmaniabush fire
A scene from Bichero, north-east of Hobart.
Tasmaniabush fire
Smoke climbs from a fire burning just kilometres from homes in the town.
Tasmaniabush fire
A fire at Tasmania's Forcett, 30km from Hobart, sends smoke over Park Beach.
Tasmaniabush fire
Clouds from a nearby bushfire are seen over Mount Wellington, Tasmania.
Tasmaniabush fire
Smoke drifts out over the coast.
Tasmaniabush fire
Fire burning near Dodges Ferry, a small town in south eastern Tasmania.
Tasmaniabush fire
Smoke from a bushfire billows over hills near Forcett, about 25 kilometres east of Hobart.
Tasmaniabush fire
The ruins of the school in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley after fire ripped through the area.
Tasmaniabush fire
Australian reporter Michael Scanlan took this image of what he called the "ghost town" of Dunalley.
Tasmaniabush fire
Burnt houses in the community of Dunalley, Tasmania.
Tasmaniabush fire
This house in Dunalley was completely destroyed.
Tasmaniabush fire
The town on the east coast of Tasmania was ravaged, and there are fears of deaths.
Tasmaniabush fire
A house destroyed by a bushfire is seen in ruins in Dunalley.
Tasmaniabush fire
The path of destruction in Dunalley.
Tasmaniabush fire
The settlement of Dunalley, about 40 kilometres east of Hobart, was one of the worst hit by the Tasmanian bush fires.
Tasmaniabush fire
The settlement of Dunalley, about 40 kilometres east of Hobart, was one of the worst hit by the Tasmanian bush fires.
Tasmaniabush fire
The settlement of Dunalley, about 40 kilometres east of Hobart, was one of the worst hit by the Tasmanian bush fires.
Tasmaniabush fire
Police Rescue Helicopter crewman Matthew Drumm looks out at the destruction.

Australia is bracing for another blast from the heatwave that saw the county's south east ravaged by bushfires last week.

Temperatures in Adelaide were forecast to hit 42 degrees Celsius today, while Melbourne would swelter through the high 30s.

Sydney's hot weather was expected to peak on Friday with western Sydney set to reach over 40C before a cool change over the weekend.

Both New South Wales and Victoria were back on fire watch, with fire officials worried about the risk in already tinder dry conditions.

About 8000 firefighters were on standby across Victoria alone.

A State Control Centre spokeswoman said people living in high  fire-risk areas should consider leaving early if they were not prepared to the highest level, especially if they had  children or an elderly person in their care.

''That (leaving early) is something they should consider because  fires that start might be quite difficult to bring under control,''  she said.

A fire was still burning at Kentbruck fire in the state's southwest.

The blaze was about 11,964 hectares in size but it has been under control for some days.

Fire bans were in place for much of South Australia too, where one uncontrolled bushfire fire was worrying fire crews.

The fire has burnt through more than 1000 hectares of pine forest and grazing land.

Fire crews were hoping to contain the blaze before the weather worsened.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was due to visit fire-ravaged parts of north-western NSW where 49 homes were now confirmed destroyed.

Gillard would visit Coonabarabran, where the state's most destructive fire in more than a decade has raged this week, causing most damage on Sunday.

Tasmaniabush fire
A fire at Tasmania's Forcett, 30km from Hobart, sends smoke over Park Beach.
Tasmaniabush fire
Fire burning near Dodges Ferry, a small town in south eastern Tasmania.
Tasmaniabush fire
The settlement of Dunalley, about 40 kilometres east of Hobart, was one of the worst hit by the Tasmanian bush fires.
Tasmaniabush fire
Police Rescue Helicopter crewman Matthew Drumm looks out at the destruction.
Australia heatwave 2013
Exercise groups train at sunrise to beat the heat on Sydney's Bronte Beach as temperatures are expected to reach record highs.
Australia heatwave 2013
Water bombing at Oura, near Wagga Wagga. New South Wales faces its worst fire risk with temperatures predicted to hit the mid to high 40s.
Australia heatwave 2013
Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons (C) at the State Operation Centre.
Australian heat
Kutchani, a female lion, eats a frozen milk iceblock at Sydney's Taronga Zoo.
Australian heatwave
Smoke rises from the Yarrabin bushfire burning out of control near Cooma, south of Canberra.
Australia heatwave
A bush fire burning near Cooma, south of Canberra.
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Singed clothes hang from a clothesline in a backyard affected by a bushfire at Boomer Bay, about 40 kilometres east of Hobart.
Australia heatwave
Fire crossing Princes Highway at Deans Gap fire in Shoalhaven, southern NSW.
Australia heatwave
A deserted petrol station, close to a fire south west of Wandandian, NSW.
Australia heatwave
NSW Rural Fire Service crews tackle a deliberately lit bushfire near Bidwill in Sydney's west.
Australia heatwave
Carngham Station, in Victoria, was destroyed in the state's bushfires.
Australia heatwave
A fireman working on flames near Ballarat, Victoria.
Australia heatwave
NSW Rural Fire Service crews water-bombing fires at Bungendore.
Australia heatwave
'Mopping-up" spot fires at Sandhills in Bungendore, Australia.
Australia fires
An aerial photo of the fire threatening the Siding Springs Observatory.
Australia fires
The fire moves in on the observatory in Siding Springs, in rural NSW.
Australia fires
The Siding Spring Observatory the morning after the fire swept through.
Australia fires
Several buildings at the Siding Spring Observatory were damaged.
Australia bushfires
A fire danger sign on the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne gives a grim warning to locals.
NSW fire at Coonabarabran
Fire burns alongside the Newell Highway near Coonabarabran, about 350km northwest of Sydney.
Australia bush fires
A children's playground destroyed by the massive bushfire in rural New South Wales.
Australia bush fires
Robina and Felicity Otrupcek standing in front of Robina's home that was water-bombed and remained unscathed as fire burnt through the New South Wales property.
Australia bush fires
The changed landscape of Baradine Road at Coonabarabran, which was hit by one of New South Wales' worst bushfires in history.
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Trying to keep cool at the Big Day Out in Sydney.
victoria bush fires
Crowds at Wanda Beach as temperatures begin to fall in Sydney.
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Swimmers and sun bathers at Victoria Park Pool, in Sydney's Glebe.
victoria bush fires
Sydneysiders cool off in Botany Bay near Yarra Bay.
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Frantic efforts to damp down properties as the fire approaches.
victoria bush fires
Firefighers battling a bushfire in Aberdare, New South Wales.
Ku-Ring-Gai
A fire burns in Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, north of Sydney.

»Scroll down to compare the size of your city to this fire on our interactive map 

The Rural Fire Service (RFS) confirmed another nine homes near Coonabarabran had been found destroyed as firefighters inspected burnt-through areas and residents returned to properties.

That brings the total homes destroyed in the area to 49 along with more than 110 sheds, machinery, fencing and untold livestock.
 
A record breaking heat wave began hitting the country two weeks ago, creating conditions for some of the worst bushfires in Australia's history.

Last weekend a town in the far northeast of South Australia recorded a maximum temperature of 49.6C - the highest temperature recorded in Australia in 15 years.

The last time a higher temperature was recorded was in February 1998, in the Western Australian region of Pilbara, where Nyang reached 49.8C.

Moomba's 49.6C was also the highest temperature recorded in SA since Oodnadatta reached 50.3C in January 1960.

Australia's record is held by Oodnadatta: 50.7C, also in January 1960.

- Fairfax with AAP

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