Australia fires burn 50,000 acres of farmland and forest
Page 2 of 2
Three fires continued to burn out of control in southern Tasmania and in the northwest Monday.
Police charged a 31-year-old man with starting one of the southern fires, near Lake Repulse, by leaving a camp fire unattended last week.
Police did not release his name, and it was not clear what penalty he could face if convicted.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who flew to Tasmania on Monday, warned that New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, was about to move into a period of extreme heat Tuesday and that the wildfire risk would be high.
"We live in a country that is hot and dry and where we sustain very destructive fires periodically," Gillard told reporters. "Whilst you would not put any one event down to climate change ... we do know over time that as a result of climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events and conditions."
New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said more than 90 wildfires were blazing across the state Monday, including the Gundaroo fire. He warned that conditions would worsen on Tuesday. No homes were currently under threat.
"It is going to be very hot and very dry. Couple that with the dryness of the vegetation, the grassland fuels, the forest fuels and those strong winds that are expected tomorrow," he said.
Temperatures across much the state was expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday, while winds were expected to be as strong as 80 kilometers per hour (50 miles per hour).
Wildfires are common during the Australian summer. In February 2009, hundreds of fires across Victoria state killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.