x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Australian firefighters race to beat rising heat

At least 120 fires are still burning and more than 17 remain out of control in the country's most populous state, New South Wales.

YASS, Australia // Australian firefighters raced to control a series of blazes yesterday before a forecasted rise in temperatures brings the risk of more infernos.

Fires have been raging across south-east Australia for nearly a week. While many have been contained, 120 are still burning and at least 17 remain out of control in the country's most populous state, New South Wales.

Cooler weather that brought some relief on Wednesday continued in many areas yesterday. But temperatures are set to soar again to well over 40°C today, piling pressure on firefighters.

In Tasmania, residents of the fishing village of Dunalley, where 90 homes and businesses were destroyed, could be allowed to go home today, police said, as gripping stories of survival emerged.

"We saw tornadoes of fire just coming across towards us and the next thing we knew everything was on fire, everywhere all around us," said Tim Holmes, who took refuge in the sea under a jetty with his five young grandchildren.

"We were all just heads, water up to our chins just trying to breathe because ... the atmosphere was so incredibly toxic."

The family survived but are now homeless.