Schools close as Australia braces for resurgent wildfires

Hundreds of Australian schools and childcare centres will be closed on Friday because of a resurgent threat from wildfires that have already killed more than 200 people, officials said.

Thousands of children will be affected by the closures in south-east Victoria state, which is bracing itself for a deadly combination of searing temperatures, strong winds and tinder-dry countryside.

Nearly 200 government schools and 146 children’s centres will be closed as a precaution because fire authorities have warned of ”extremely difficult weather conditions”, Victorian Education Minister Bronwyn Pike said.

Temperatures of 39 degrees Celsius are expected across the state on Friday, raising fears that the heat and wind will stoke five major fires still burning or that lightning will start new ones.

Three schools burnt down on ”Black Saturday” — February 7 — when temperatures of up to 46 degrees Celsius combined with high winds to raze more than 2 000 houses and kill a total of 210 people.

”This certainly is an extreme set of circumstances. We’ve got a tinder-dry environment and existing fires. The risk is very great on Friday,” Pike said.

On Thursday, a heavy pall of smoke drifted across the eastern suburbs of Melbourne as more than 3 000 firefighters worked on building defences against Friday’s feared conflagration.

The authorities warned residents threatened by the fires to decide early whether to leave their homes or stay and try to defend them.

”Don’t leave it too late in the day when you can see fire. Make that decision very early and make it a very conservative decision,” said state emergency services commissioner, Bruce Esplin.

”If you’re not prepared physically and psychologically then it is better to be away from that area.” — AFP

 

AFP

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Seventeen people found dead in East London nightclub

At least 17 young people were found dead at a nightclub in a township in the southern city of East London on Sunday, police said

Gauteng ANC produces solid financials, feather in treasurer Parks Tau’s...

The provincial administration has, however, struggled to pay staff salaries

Rwanda refugees fear extradition from Mozambique

Mozambique and Rwanda’s new deal comes after 19 people ‘agreed’ to return home

Zandile Tshabalala exhibits for the first time in SA with...

Pandering to the art world is no longer a prerequisite for success. Zandile Tshabalala has proved this in the last two years by exhibiting abroad before coming home
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×