Australian firefighters hopeful of end to battle


Australian firefighters are today looking to the end of a battle against a run of big fires in eastern Australia which started on Christmas day and have destroyed 101 homes.

"Everything is basically in containment lines at this stage," said Mr Cameron Wade, a spokesman for the News South Wales Rural Fire Service.

Two fresh fires flared up in the Coffs Harbor and Grafton area in the North of the state yesterday but Mr Wade said firefighters were hopeful that they would be brought under control today.

The fires - many suspected to have been deliberately lit - have been fanned by extreme summer temperatures and strong dry wind.

However, top temperatures are expected to be around 25 degrees Celsius in o Sydney throughout most of the week.

The fires, which have burned an area about twice the size of greater London, are the most intense since Sydney's 1994 fires when four people died and just over 200 homes were lost.

Australia's most deadly fires swept through Victoria and South Australia states in 1983, killing 76 people.