Nation & World News

As Smoke Blankets Sydney, Australians Brace For Worse Days

By Mark Memmott on October 22nd, 2013

Wildfires are burning to the north, south and west of Sydney, Australia, and smoke “has been rolling in for days,” correspondent Stuart Cohen said Tuesday on Morning Edition.

While the fires are mostly in sparsely populated areas, Sydney is blanketed — “you can smell smoke inside buildings” and health authorities are expecting a surge in cases of people with respiratory problems, Cohen added.

Things may get worse.

The top headline today on the website of The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons saying that Wednesday (already underway in Australia) “will be as bad as it gets.”

The weather in New South Wales state, which surrounds Sydney, is going to be “hotter, drier and windier than the dire predictions previously forecast,” the Morning Herald writes.

“On days like [this],” Fitzsimmons says, “there’s a very real potential for more loss of homes and life.” So far, only one death has been linked to the fires — that of a man who died of a suspected heart attack while battling a blaze that threatened his home.

Looking ahead, correspondent Cohen notes that Australia “usually has its peak fire season in the middle of summer — December and January. … The big worry now is that it’s only October [and] there are still months and months ahead of the typical fire season.”

The causes of the several dozen fires have varied. There have been lightning strikes and other natural fire starters. There have also been some cases of suspected arson.

Australian Broadcasting writes that “an 11-year-old boy appeared in court on Tuesday accused of setting fire to an abandoned mattress and lighting a grass fire in Newcastle, north of Sydney, last week. A 15-year-old boy will face court next month over the same fire. Police say the fire caused about 5,000 hectares of damage.” According to the Metric Views blog, a typical Major League Baseball field is about one hectare. A typical cricket ground (see the photo we’ve attached to this post) is about 1.25 hectares.

Australian Broadcasting is live blogging here.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Vikings Place Adrian Peterson On Exempt List

The change in running back Adrian Peterson’s status will require him to stay away from the team while he takes care of legal proceedings regarding child abuse charges.


In an image provided by NASA, astronaut Randy Bresnik prepares to enter Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft for an evaluation at the company's Houston Product Support Center. NASA awarded Boeing with a $4.2 billion contract Tuesday.

Boeing And SpaceX Win $6.8 Billion In NASA Contracts

By 2017, the two American companies are expected to take over a job that NASA has relied upon Russia to perform: shuttling astronauts to the International Space Station.


President Obama spoke Tuesday about the U.S. plan to fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, speaking at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The White House plan reportedly includes deploying 3,000 U.S. military personnel and training health care providers in Liberia.

Obama Gives New Details On America’s Effort To Fight Ebola

The president announced a “major increase” in the U.S. response to the outbreak, including a new military command center in Liberia, and sending medical professionals from the U.S. to field hospitals.


Inmate Frank Van Den Bleeken, seen here in court last autumn, says he wants to die because he sees no progress in the mental problems that were linked to his crimes of murder and rape.

Belgium Agrees To Euthanize Man Convicted Of Murder, Rape

Frank Van Den Bleeken says he wants to die because he hasn’t seen any change in himself. A court agreed — and now his case is raising prickly questions in a country that has no death penalty.


U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier ruled nearly two weeks ago that BP acted recklessly in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig accident and oil spill.

BP Lawyers Use Old-School Trick; Judge Not Amused

A legal filing tied to the company’s Gulf oil spill case was supposed to have been capped at 35 pages. But lawyers for BP got a little creative with the spacing.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments