Canberra: A wildfire threatening property glows on hills south of the Australian capital on Friday.—AP
Canberra: A wildfire threatening property glows on hills south of the Australian capital on Friday.—AP

CANBERRA: The Australian capital region declared a state of emergency on Friday because of an out-of-control forest fire burning erratically to its south.

It’s the first fire emergency for the Australian Capital Territory area since 2003 when wildfires killed four people and destroyed almost 500 homes in a single day.

The threat is posed by a blaze on Canberra’s southern fringe that has razed more than 21,500 hectares (53,000 acres) since it was sparked by heat from a military helicopter landing light on Monday, the Emergency Services Agency said.

The state of emergency sets a clear expectation for our community that we need you to be vigilant, Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman told reporters. This is the worst bushfire season in the ACT since 2003.

The fire is burning at emergency level — the highest on a three-tier scale of danger — and embers have created dangerous spot fires nearby, agency officials said.

Residents of southern Canberra suburbs and surrounding villages have been advised to prepare to either protect their homes or evacuate.

Roads were blocked to the village of Tharwa late Friday because the fire posed too much danger for residents to evacuate or return to their homes.

The fire is the most dangerous of dozens of blazes burning Australia’s drought-stricken southeast.

Unprecedented fires across southern Australia have claimed at least 33 lives since September, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and razed more than 10.6 million hectares (26.2 million acres).

The fire danger is forecast to escalate across the southeast in the Australian Capital Territory and the states of New South Wales and Victoria as summer temperatures rise over the weekend.

The state of emergency gives Canberra’s local government additional powers to block roads, direct peoples movements, control their property and undertake firefighting work on private land.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2020

Opinion

Educating merged districts
Updated 12 Apr 2021

Educating merged districts

The seven merged districts of KP, with a combined population of over five million, do not have a single university.
Greater visibility
12 Apr 2021

Greater visibility

It is not surprising that the custodians of patriarchy are fearful.
Rethinking executions
11 Apr 2021

Rethinking executions

One convict’s fight to escape the gallows exposes the deep flaws in our criminal justice system.

Editorial

Pakistan-India peace
Updated 12 Apr 2021

Pakistan-India peace

Experts note that everything — including Kashmir — can be resolved if there is a will in both capitals.
12 Apr 2021

Child abuse

IN its annual report, the NGO Sahil found that there has been a 4pc increase in documented cases of major crimes...
12 Apr 2021

New tax chief’s task

THE FBR got a new chairman on Friday. Asim Ahmed, a senior IRS officer who was serving as the Board’s IT member...
11 Apr 2021

Dissension within PTI

WITH the dust from the PDM’s implosion still not fully settled, the PTI is now faced with growing dissension from...
11 Apr 2021

Power to arrest

A SUPREME Court verdict announced on Thursday spelled out what might be considered a self-evident truth in any...
11 Apr 2021

Unequal vaccine distribution

IT is in times of crisis that we often see the best — or worst — of humanity. In this regard, the pandemic has...