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Wild weather causes havoc across eastern Australia, but easing conditions help firefighters

Thursday September 26, 2013 - 23:05 EST
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This uprooted tree caused traffic delays on Wentworth Avenue in Kingston, Canberra. - ABC

Easing weather conditions are helping firefighters trying to bring two major bushfires on the New South Wales mid-north coast under control.

The Rural Fire Service (RFS) says around 20 uncontained fires continue to burn around the state.

Firefighters are focusing on containing fires around the Shallow Bay area near Coomba park, and at Purfleet, south of Taree.

RFS spokesman Ben Shepherd says although warnings have been downgraded, there is still firefighting to be done.

"Firefighters are at least finding now they can get on the front foot, and look at containment strategies," he said.

Inspector Shepherd says there may be back-burning operations in the area overnight to halt the progress of the fire.

Further west, a blaze threatening several homes at Yarrowitch, south-east of Walcha, has eased as waterbombing aircraft assisted ground crews.

Earlier on Thursday the fires were fanned by hot winds which tore across large areas of the state, as wild weather events affected much of eastern Australia.

More than 1,300 calls for help were received in Victoria and the ACT because of strong gusts, which in places reached 100 kilometres per hour.

In Queensland, meanwhile, large parts of the state sweltered through another day of record September temperatures.

Earlier, the State Emergency Service (SES) had responded to 40 reports of fallen trees and roof damage in the Sydney region and as far west as Broken Hill.

Strong winds also caused major blackouts in Sydney, with outages affecting homes and businesses at Rozelle in the inner-west and at Lane Cove and Riverview in the north.

Fallen tree traps five people in car

In Victoria, the SES received more than 1,300 calls as a result of the strong winds, with about 900 calls in Melbourne alone.

The Royal Melbourne Show shut early because of the weather, with ticket holders being offered the opportunity to return on another day of the show.

Winds gusts of 100kph were recorded at St Kilda, and SES regional commander Peter Stanley said most of the requests for help came from Melbourne's eastern suburbs.

"We're experiencing a number of trees down across roads which obviously presents a traffic hazard and about four or five instances where falling trees have brought down power lines," he said.

In Gippsland, a .

Mark Holland from the SES at Yarram said strong winds brought the tree down without warning, trapping two adults and three children inside the car.

"It was very unlucky, they've been driving past as the tree's fallen and it's literally fallen straight across the car.

"So it's just an indication of how dangerous conditions are out here this afternoon."

Powerlines brought down by trees

as wind gusts of 82kph were recorded in Canberra.

Most calls were related to fallen branches and trees across roads and pathways but a property in Duntroon was damaged when a large tree fell on it.

Cars in Cook and Amaroo were damaged by the trees and there have been a number of powerlines brought down.

In after a night of high winds. 

The SES said crews had responded to about 80 calls as winds gusted to 100kph at Edinburgh in the northern suburbs.

Queenslanders swelter in spring heatwave

More than 30 temperature records - some dating back to the late 1800s - were smashed across Queensland in the spring heatwave today.

The weather bureau says Thursday was the hottest September day on record for towns and communities stretching from Julia Creek in the state's north-west to Stanthorpe in the south.

The bureau's Matthew Bass says Longreach got to 40.8 degrees Celsius, Roma reached 40.1C, and in Toowoomba the mercury reached a record 34.4C.

Yesterday Charleville had its hottest September day since 1928, with 39C recorded, and there is a severe to extreme fire warning in the area.


© ABC 2013

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