Australia fires: Firefighters prepare defences as temperatures set to rise again

7 January 2020, 09:56

Scott Morrison has committed more money to fighting the fires
Scott Morrison has committed more money to fighting the fires. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The Australian government has said it will pay "whatever it takes" to help tackle the deadly wildfires ravaging the country, as firefighters prepare for scorching conditions later this week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government was pledging an extra $2 billion Australian dollars to help the recovery efforts of firefighters.

This would be alongside the tens of millions of dollars that have already been promised by the government.

“The fires are still burning. And they’ll be burning for months to come,” Morrison said.

"And so that’s why I outlined today that this is an initial, an additional, investment of $2 billion.

"If more is needed and the cost is higher, then more will be provided.”

His announcement comes as the death toll from the fires rose to at least 25 and 2,000 homes have been destroyed by the blaze.

A body was discovered yesterday in New South Wales, believed to be that of a 71-year-old man last seen on New Year's Eve.

Despite rain and cooler temperatures bringing some relief on Monday, scorching temperatures are again predicted for the end of the week.

Officials have warned that the rain will not put out the largest and most dangerous blazes before conditions deteriorate again.

"With the more benign weather conditions, it presents some wonderful relief for everybody, the firefighters, the emergency services personnel, but also the communities affected by these fires," said Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.

“But it also presents some real challenges when it comes to implementing tactical and strategic back-burns and other techniques to try and bring these fires under control.”

Scott Morrison has been fiercely criticised for his response to the fires
Scott Morrison has been fiercely criticised for his response to the fires. Picture: PA

The first hints of the financial toll from the disaster began to emerge on Tuesday.

The Insurance Council of Australia said the estimated damage bill had doubled in two days, with insurance claims reaching $700 million ($485 million).

Morrison's funding announcement came amid fierce criticism from many Australians who say he has been too slow to respond to the crisis.

He has also faced backlash for downplaying the need for his government to address climate change, which experts say helps supercharge the blazes.

The fires, fuelled by drought and the country's hottest and driest year on record, have been raging since September- months earlier than is typical for Australia's annual wildfire season.

In New South Wales (NSW), 130 fires were still burning on Tuesday, around 50 of which were uncontrolled.

Victoria state Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said on Monday at least 200 millimeters (8 inches) of rain would need to fall in a short time to snuff out the fires - around 20 times what has fallen across the region in the past day.

Officials also warned that Australia's wildfire season - which generally lasts through March - was nowhere near its end.

The rain was also complicating firefighters' attempts to strategically backburn certain areas and was making the ground slippery for fire trucks.

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

President Joe Biden listens as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks

Ketanji Brown Jackson to be sworn in as US Supreme Court justice

An investigator works outside the Bataclan concert hall (Christophe Ena/PA)

Life without parole for surviving extremist who carried out Paris attacks

A shark is seen swimming across a sand bar (Phil Marcelo/AP)

Great white sharks head to Cape Cod as busy tourist season gets under way

Police outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris (Catherine Wylie/PA)

Men convicted of involvement in 2015 terror attacks in Paris

Salah Abdeslam is believed to be the only surviving member of the group that killed 130 people in the 2015 Paris attacks

Islamic State member found guilty of mass murder for 2015 Paris terror attacks

Vatican Pope Pelosi

Pro-choice Nancy Pelosi receives communion at Vatican despite home city ban

Workers clear debris at the Kremenchuk shopping centre damaged in the Russian rocket attack

Search ongoing for 20 missing after Russian strike on Ukraine shopping centre

People attend a community vigil for the dozens of people found dead in a trailer in San Antonio

‘Difficult process’ identifying Texas lorry trailer death victims – authorities

World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

US abortion ruling ‘a setback’ that will cost lives, says WHO chief

Dutch farmers protesting against government plans gather for a demonstration at Stroe

Dutch PM condemns farmers’ protests at minister’s home

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in by committee chairman Bennie Thompson

Trump dismissed January 6 threats and wanted to join crowd, says former aide

India Killing

Hindu tailor killed in cleaver attack amid religious tensions in India

The superyacht Amadea, which was seized by the US from a Russian oligarch

£25bn from Russian oligarchs frozen in multinational seizure effort

Travis Barker is been hospitalised in LA

Travis Barker's family plea for 'prayers' after drummer hospitalised with mystery illness

Airbnb has permanently banned parties at all its properties

Airbnb permanently bans parties at all properties around the world

Capitol Riot Investigation

Trump was told protesters had weapons on January 6, former aide says