Megafire Australia: Firefighters Worry Two Blazes Could Merge

Image: Megafire Australia: Firefighters Worry Two Blazes Could Merge Firefighters work near the township of Bell, Australia, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013.

Monday, 21 Oct 2013 02:59 PM

By Robin Farmer

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Firefighters in Australia are battling two blazes that could become a "megafire" following the hottest September on record.

Typically bush fires peak in December, which is the start of summer in the southern hemisphere.

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BBC News reported the fire commissioner said Monday two fires near Lithgow could possibly merge into one "megafire."

"Modelling indicates that there's every likelihood under the forecast weather conditions that these two fires, particularly up in the back end of the mountains will merge at some point," NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said at a news briefing.

About 800 personnel from interstate fire departments are expected to arrive Tuesday to assist in fighting the blazes.

A forecast of high winds and soaring temperatures for the next several days increased the fire danger for Australia's most populous state, The Associated Press reported. 

Out-of-control fires hit the Blue Mountains region, west of Sydney, the hardest. The bush fires have killed one man and left hundreds of people homeless, including a firefighter who was on duty.

"I'd been standing watching other people's houses burn and the emotion from that was bad enough,” Tim Boxwell, 24, told BBC's Newshour. “To be hit with your own house being lost was a shock as well," he said.

The Associated Press reported that the Defense Department was investigating whether there was any connection between a fire that started in Lithgow Wednesday and the use of military exercises with explosives at a nearby training range on the same day.

"Defense is investigating if the two events are linked," the department said in a statement on Saturday.

In February 2009, wildfires left 173 people dead and destroyed more than 2,000 homes in Victoria state.

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Related stories:

Sun Bathers, Reptiles Emerge in Alaska Heat as Wildfires Spread

Colorado Wildfires Devour Homes, Force Thousands To Flee

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