Australian firefighters brace for ‘extreme heatwave’ over weekend, Latest World News - The New Paper

Australian firefighters brace for ‘extreme heatwave’ over weekend

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PERTH: Firefighters battling wildfires in Australia's most populous state tried to make headway yesterday amid favourable conditions, before an "extreme heatwave" hits embattled areas on the weekend.

Thousands of firefighters in New South Wales took advantage of cooler weather and continued to strengthen containment lines. More than 70 fires were still burning across the state with areas in the south coast at the "watch and act" level issued by fire services.

About five million ha of land have burned nationwide over the past few months, with nine people killed and more than 950 homes destroyed.

New South Wales has received the brunt of the damage, with around 850 homes razed in the state.

The authorities are bracing for conditions to deteriorate as high temperatures return.

Sydney is forecast to hit 31 deg C on Sunday before reaching 35 deg C on Tuesday. The city's western suburbs could reach 41 deg C on Sunday.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Rose Barr said a heatwave was currently building in southern parts of New South Wales before worsening on the weekend.

"Some areas are forecast to reach extreme heatwave conditions," she said.

"With the increasing heat and winds, the fire danger will worsen into the new week, with Monday and Tuesday most likely to be the most significant fire weather days."

Fire danger ratings remained very high in north-western New South Wales, and high in Sydney.

South Australian firefighters yesterday were battling wildfires in Adelaide Hills, which has been downgraded to the "advice" level.

South Australia state last week had 86 homes destroyed after wildfires flared in catastrophic conditions. A return of extreme temperatures, however, are expected with Adelaide, the state capital, set to reach a sizzling 40 deg C today to start a four-day heatwave - its second such hot spell in just over a week. - AP