Australia fire: State of emergency declared for Canberra region

  • Australia fire: State of emergency declared for Canberra region

Australia fire: State of emergency declared for Canberra region

Authorities in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) have declared a state of emergency as massive bushfires rage south of Canberra.

The ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has warned families to prepare for the "worst possible situation" ahead of worsening conditions this weekend.

A wildfire threatening property glows at dusk near Clear Range, south of the Australian capital, Canberra, Jan. 31, 2020.

Officials said an out-of-control fire in the ACT's south, on the doorstep of Canberra, had grown to 185 square kilometres, nearly 8 percent of the territory's landmass. "It may become uncontrollable", Barr said in a televised briefing.

"The combination of extreme heat, wind and a dry landscape will place suburbs at Canberra's south at risk in coming days", he said.

Australia's federal parliament is located in Canberra, which is also home to several government and independent institutions as well as national museums.

The concern is the blaze could be as risky as the one in 2003 that killed four people and destroyed in excess of 500 homes.

Similar weather conditions were being recorded on Friday, authorities said.

The fire is now at "watch and act" level.

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

Months-long bushfires in the country have killed 33 people and burned more than 10 million hectares. About 2,500 homes have been destroyed as more than 11.7 million hectares (29 million acres) of forest land have been razed.

There were 58 active fires in NSW state, 20 in Victoria and 22 in South Australia.