Army on standby to tackle inferno

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - AN­NIKA SMETHURST

SCOTT Mor­ri­son held an emer­gency meet­ing of Cab­i­net and has put the army on standby to help with the bush­fires.

The Prime Min­is­ter said he was ex­pect­ing “worse news” from the fire front as con­di­tions de­te­ri­o­rated, but said all level of gov­ern­ments were work­ing to­gether to re­spond to the dis­as­ter.

“Those who have lost homes, those who are sit­ting in the smoul­der­ing ru­ins of prop­er­ties that once stood, they are the ones that Aus­tralians will be think­ing of,” he said. “I want them to be as­sured of the kind­ness, love and sup­port of their fel­low Aus­tralians and that their gov­ern­ments will be do­ing ev­ery­thing they can, not just to re­lieve them from this im­me­di­ate sit­u­a­tion, but to be there in the re­cov­ery in the weeks and the months and years ahead.”

Mr Mor­ri­son said he was work­ing with De­fence Min­is­ter Linda Reynolds on “op­tions” to call out re­servists to have them work­ing on fire­breaks, lo­gis­tics or cater­ing sup­port for fire­fight­ers.

If con­di­tions de­te­ri­o­rate fur­ther, Aus­tralia could also call on New Zealand fire­fight­ers to help tackle blazes across the coun­try.

“These fires will burn for some time. They will hope­fully be able to be brought back to a more man­age­able level but, that said, the fires them­selves will con­tinue to present a risk for some weeks to come,” Mr Mor­ri­son said.

“We’re ex­pect­ing very sim­i­lar con­di­tions in West­ern Aus­tralia over the next few days … down in (the) south and also in the north.

“And if there is a need, other coun­tries like New Zealand, where we’ve pro­vided sup­port to New Zealand, I have no doubt that they will turn up.”

La­bor leader An­thony Al­banese said he ex­tended his sym­pa­thies to Aus­tralians who had lost loved ones and prop­erty in the bush­fires.

“News of lives lost is heart­break­ing for the fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties af­fected,” he said.

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