More than 100 wildfires raged across Australia yesterday, sending firefighters scrambling to protect homes and farmland across four states as more hot temperatures were predicted.
Strong, dry winds and temperatures well above 30oC were fanning the blazes across Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania.
More than 20 fire crews and two water-bombing helicopters were struggling to contain a wildfire that was threatening dozens of homes in the Hunter Valley, a popular wine district northeast of Sydney, according to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.
Meanwhile firefighters battled against extreme conditions in southern Victoria state, with many struggling to stand upright against the raging winds, officials said.
"We've had over 100 fires this morning, which indicates the extreme conditions and the extreme fire danger across the state," Victoria state official, Graham Fountain, told Southern Cross Radio.
On the southern island state of Tasmania, a blaze was threatening to engulf a number of homes on the outskirts of the state capital, Hobart, according to state chief fire officer John Gledhill.
Around 60 firefighters had successfully contained a fire burning in scrub land in South Australia, the Country Fire Service said on its Web site.
More high temperatures have been predicted for the weekend, prompting officials to ban the lighting of any fires to prevent more blazes from breaking out.
Wildfires are a regular feature of Australia's hot summer months, raging across thousands of hectares of forests and scrubland and sometimes burning through cities and towns.