BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Chinese Vietnamese Burmese Thai Indonesian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Asia-Pacific  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 08:04 GMT
Canberra respite from bush fires
A Canberra resident returns to her burnt-out home
More than 400 homes were destroyed
Bushfires which threatened the Australian capital Canberra eased on Wednesday, but there were warnings that with more hot, dry weather predicted for the weekend, the threat has not yet passed.

Firefighters in Canberra took advantage of the lull to get some rest.

Attention switched to the southern state of Victoria, where several towns in the north-east were threatened by two new fires, and to the island of Tasmania.

TALKING POINT
I have lived in Canberra all my life and this is the worst thing I have ever seen

Erin, Canberra
In Victoria, fire-fighters were trying to set up control lines around small towns in the alpine region.

The fires have destroyed thousands of acres of national park land and could now threaten two ski resorts.

On the island of Tasmania, fires destroyed five houses on Tuesday. Bulldozers were clearing fire breaks around the capital Hobart after one fire threatened the city.

Authorities said the Victoria fires were believed to have been started deliberately.

In Canberra, a 15-year-old boy appeared in court on five charges of arson, including lighting a fire in Canberra's Black Mountain Reserve.

Severe drought has led to flare-ups across Australia's bush for months.

The fires which hit Canberra at the weekend were some of the worst so far, leaving four people dead and more than 400 homes destroyed.

Insurance officials said the Canberra damage could cost A$150 ($90m).

The authorities have been accused of not doing enough to prevent the destruction at the weekend, but they argued that the blaze was simply too ferocious to control.

Latest estimates suggest 450 homes were destroyed, in the worst fires in the city's history.

Angry residents

One man, on a street where only four out of 15 homes remained standing, said residents should have been warned of the potential danger from the fires, which were burning south of the city for a week before they blew into Canberra.

Jon Stanhope, Australian Capital Territory's chief minister, has ordered an inquiry into the weekend's fires, but urged people not to blame firefighters.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Phil Koperburg, said that the fires were unstoppable.

"All the defences in the world could not have stopped this fire," he said. "This was the perfect fire."

But the fire brigade union said homes could have been saved if the operation had been better co-ordinated.

Some people complained that fire crews were overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the disaster and left some properties to burn down.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Phil Mercer reports from Sydney
"The city is still extremely nervous"

Key stories

TALKING POINT
See also:

20 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
20 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
20 Jan 03 | Science/Nature
20 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
19 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
06 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Dec 02 | Business
05 Dec 02 | Entertainment
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes