Heat, wind fuel wildfires in Australia

Indo Asian News Service

Canberra, Dec 3 (IANS) Heat and wind on Monday were fuelling over 110 forest fires that have been burning for two weeks in Australia, where the authorities have also been alerted to a tropical cyclone off the coast.

The Queensland Bureau of Meteorology has also issued a severe storm warning for the state, reports Efe news.

"Damaging to destructive winds, large to giant hail and heavy rainfall are all possible. Storms may affect current fires burning in the area," the bureau said on Twitter.

At least one person has died from the fires in the state of Queensland, where more than 527,000 hectares have been razed.

One of the areas that most concerns firefighters is North Stradbroke island, near Queensland's capital Brisbane, where it is feared flames could jump to the nearby Russell and Macleay islands.

"Our greatest area of concern is still North Stradbroke Island in the south-east, just off Brisbane. We were expecting high winds today to impact that already dynamic fire," Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner Michael Wassing told the media.

The centre of Queensland is another area that has been of concern to the fire department, which has alerted the population of Captain Creek, located 467 km from Brisbane, to prepare for evacuation.

In the same region, firefighters urged several more communities to stay informed, and asked evacuees last week to refrain from returning home as conditions remain extremely dangerous.

The fires coincided with the formation of Cyclone Owen in the Coral Sea, more than 900 km from Cairns, in the north of Queensland.

While the cyclone is projected to weaken, it is expected to cause rain on Wednesday in several areas of the state's central coast.

--IANS

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