Australia set to swelter again

Last updated 12:08 17/01/2013
Tasmaniabush fire
Reuters Zoom
The settlement of Dunalley, about 40 kilometres east of Hobart, was one of the worst hit by the Tasmanian bush fires.
A fire burns in Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, north of Sydney.

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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.

»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.

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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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