Light­ning fears as storms ar­rive in Aus­tralia

Evening Times - - THE WORLD TODAY -

THUN­DER­STORMS and show­ers brought some relief for fire­fight­ers bat­tling wild­fires across Aus­tralia’s east coast yes­ter­day.

But they also raised con­cerns that light­ning will spark more fires be­fore dan­ger­ous hot and windy con­di­tions re­turn.

Around 2300 fire­fight­ers in New South Wales (NSW) were mak­ing the most of rel­a­tively be­nign con­di­tions by con­sol­i­dat­ing con­tain­ment lines around more than 110 blazes and pa­trolling for light­ning strikes.

“Un­for­tu­nately with light­ning strikes, it’s not al­ways the next day they pop up,” NSW Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice com­mis­sioner Shane Fitzsim­mons said.

“They can smoul­der around in trees and in root sys­tems for a cou­ple of days and pop up un­der drier, hot­ter con­di­tions, so we are very mind­ful of that as we head into Fri­day,” he added.

The un­prece­dented fire cri­sis in south-east Aus­tralia has killed 25 peo­ple and de­stroyed 2000 homes. It has fo­cused many Aus­tralians on how the na­tion re­sponds to the cli­mate emer­gency.

The op­po­si­tion La­bor Party has made po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal from the cri­sis by promis­ing more am­bi­tious poli­cies than the rul­ing con­ser­va­tive coali­tion. Op­po­si­tion cli­mate spokesper­son Mark But­ler wants the govern­ment to al­low a de­bate on cli­mate change when par­lia­ment re­turns in Fe­bru­ary.

“Hope­fully we could fash­ion a bi-par­ti­san po­si­tion,” he said.

La­bor had pledged to re­duce Aus­tralia’s green­house gas emis­sions by 45% be­low 2005 lev­els by 2030 and achieve zero emis­sions by 2050 if it had won last year’s elec­tions. The coali­tion govern­ment warned that La­bor’s am­bi­tious tar­gets would wreck the econ­omy.

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