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Heatwave, strong winds fan Australia bushfire threat

Published: Updated:

High temperatures and strong winds were expected to fan massive bushfires blazing across southeastern Australia on Friday, as authorities issued new emergency warnings after several days of cooler conditions brought some reprieve to affected communities.

Thousands of firefighters were preparing for the worst with temperatures expected to soar above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of New South Wales and Victoria states and with a late southerly change forecast to bring damaging winds.

“The conditions are difficult today. It’s the hot, dry winds that will prove once again to be the real challenge,” New South Wales Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters.

“We are going to see winds coming through around about 35-50 kilometers per, gusting up to 70-90 kilometres an hour, in some areas... and we are going to see that through most of the day.”

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there were more than 130 fires burning in the state, with just over 50 not yet under control.