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Extreme Fire Danger Warned in Australia

January 02, 2013; 9:52 AM

A blistering heat wave is headed eastward in Australia, prompting authorities to warn of extreme fire danger in the southeastern state of Victoria.

State fire authorities are calling for temperatures as high as 44 degrees C (111 degrees F), together with gusty winds, on Friday, the Australian ABC News website said on Wednesday. This would be the first "extreme fire day" of the summer fire season, they also said.

There were more than 60 grass and bush fires in Victoria on New Year's Day, which was not exceptionally hot.

Wednesday, the heart of the hottest air spanned a vast swath of desert and scrub in Western Australia and South Australia, far to the west of Victoria.

Highs of 45.9 degrees C (115 degrees F) were set in southeastern Western Australia, both at Forrest and at Red Rocks Point. Highs were as many as 20 degrees C (36 degrees F) above normal along the Great Australian Bight.


Estimate of daytime high temperature on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. Highlighted here is extreme heat of at least 45 degrees C (113 F) reaching from the western hinterland to the shores of the Southern Ocean, both in southeastern Western Australia and in southwestern South Australia. (Australian Bureau of Meteorology-BoM)

The mass of the exceptional heat wave is forecast to shift eastward, baking not only Melbourne, the commercial hub of Victoria, but also Adelaide in neighboring South Australia state.

Friday's forecast high temperatures, according to AccuWeather.com, are 105 degrees F (40.5 C) in Melbourne, and 102 degrees F (39 degrees C) in Adelaide.

Victoria has tracts of forest and bush, as well as grass and cropland, any of which can be prone to burn during the summer fire season.

Victoria residents are well of the dangers of wild fire in their state. The tragic Black Saturday blazes of Feb. 7, 2009, left 173 Victorians dead and another 414 injured -- Australia's highest ever loss of life -- according to Wikipedia.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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