SYDNEY • Australian firefighters struggled to control blazes across the country's parched east coast, ahead of a forecast of renewed strong winds and higher temperatures that are likely to fan the flames.
Four people are dead and more than 300 homes have been razed in the state of New South Wales, while an estimated one million hectares of farmland and bush have burned in extraordinarily fierce wildfires.
The Bureau of Meteorology yesterday issued a warning for north-east New South Wales, saying: "Very warm and dry westerly winds will generate elevated fire danger" over the region through the weekend.
Hundreds of fires have raged in Australia in the past week, sparking debate on whether Prime Minister Scott Morrison is doing enough to curb emissions and whether climate change is worsening the fire season.
His conservative government has snubbed calls to discuss the impact of climate change in drought-affected rural areas, saying its full focus should be on extinguishing the blazes and helping victims.
As of yesterday morning, 59 bush and grass fires were burning in New South Wales, with 13 yet to be contained, said the Rural Fire Service.
A 51-year-old man was charged after allegedly lighting a fire northeast of the New South Wales city of Armidale in a back-burning attempt to protect a cannabis crop. The blaze, allegedly lit on Thursday, is still burning out of control on the Northern Tablelands.