Resort evacuated as fires burn in Red CentreBy Alison Horn and Gail Liston, Wednesday January 9, 2013 - 10:01 EDT
A tourist resort appears to have escaped serious structural damage after being affected by a fire that is raging in Central Australia.
Aerial spotters reported seeing flames surrounding the Kings Canyon Resort as a one-kilometre wide fire front raced through the Watarrka National Park.
A group of 11 rangers were forced to flee the blaze and have made it safely on to burnt-out ground behind the fire front.
About 120 tourists evacuated from the resort are being provided food and water at the Mereenie Oil Fields.
Aerial spotters have made a first pass over the Kings Canyon Resort to assess the damage.
Chris Day from Parks Central Australia says flames have blackened many buildings but they are still standing.
"Infrastructure is intact at this stage, but there is still a lot of active fire in the area," he said.
A fire front more than a kilometre long is still burning towards a ranger station.
Emergency Services say it is still to dangerous to enter the park.
Earlier, people staying at a caravan and camping park near the canyon were moved to the resort area. Tourists are being told to stay away.
Kings Canyon, about 320 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs, is a popular tourist destination and draws visitors despite intense heat at this time of year.
The nearby Aboriginal community of Lilla, which is in the path of two fire fronts, has also been evacuated.
The blazes were sparked when lighting struck in several places overnight.
An Emergency Services Operation Centre has been activated in Alice Springs to manage the response to the fires.
Bushfires NT has sent two fire units from Darwin to Alice Springs to help local firefighters.
Senior Fire Control Officer Geoff Kenna says the additional resources will be an important back-up for fire crews on the front line.
A number of fires are burning in central Australia as hot weather records are broken.
In Alice Springs, it has been the longest consecutive number of January days above 42 degrees Celsius.
Yulara, near Uluru, has broken its record for the the most number of January days above 44C degrees.
Weather bureau forecaster Angeline Prasad says the record at Yulara was set in 1998.
"Looking at Yulara's temperature over the last few days, it has been recording over 44C degrees since Friday," she said.
"The heatwave is set to continue for the rest of this week."
The rim walk at Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park has been closed for at least a week because of the high temperatures.
Firefighters in Central Australia spent last night back-burning to try to contain another large bushfire about 120 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs.
Bushfires NT says two units were sent to assist the owner of the 2,200 square kilometre Napperby Station in keeping the fire away from the homestead.
Firefighters and station staff have been back burning across 15 kilometres and putting in strategic break lines.
It is believed the blaze was sparked by a lightning strike at Pine Hill a few days ago and has been fanned on by strong easterly winds.
Napperby Station owner Roy Chisholm says the fire has burnt out a huge area of land.
"It has probably taken out over a hundred square miles of country," he said.
© ABC 2013
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