bush fires

Bushfire bears down on another town in Western Australia

The blaze started near Waroona earlier this week before tearing through the small town of Yarloop, destroying almost 100 homes, and has now burnt more than 67,000 hectares.

With a perimeter stretching across more than 220 kilometres, the fire continues to sweep south, and is now encroaching on more towns, with Harvey actively under threat.

Bushfires in New Caledonia continue to increase

A total fire ban is in force as firefighters continue to battle dozens of bushfires across the archipelago as a prolonged dry spell continues.

Last Sunday, a helicopter involved in fighting a fire near Voh, about 300 kilometres north of Noumea, crashed, killing its pilot and a mechanic on board.

Only 20 millimetres of rain fell last month, and authorities expect the situation to worsen as what's expected to be one of the worst El Niño systems in over a decade intensifies.

New Caledonia firefighters battle as dry spell continues

Three helicopters were deployed to help control fires in Teremba, Voh and Pouembout.

Local media reports the fires are mostly due to human intervention, and have been aggravated by strong winds.

New Caledonia's president, Philippe Germain, yesterday issued a territory-wide fire ban, saying there is an extreme risk.

Like much of the Pacific, New Caledonia is predicted to experience well below normal rainfall in coming months as what's expected to be one of the worst El Niño systems in over a decade intensifies.

PNG ravaged by fires

Phil Shearman from the University of Papua New Guinea's Remote Sensing Centre says satellite imagery is showing numbers not seen since the drought of 1997 and '98.

Dr Shearman says the current dry period has led to a high fire risk.

"It's possible to set fire to things that weren't able to set fire to before so we've been seeing in the last three months a five-fold increase in the number of fires that are occurring. Judging by what happened in the '97-'98 El Nino period you would be expecting to see an increased expansion of that."