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Above-normal fire threat remains, new report says

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The eastern region stretching from north Queensland through to NSW and Victoria faces above-normal fire risk this summer, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) says in a report released today.

A significant part of the areas identified as under threat, in particular in NSW and Queensland, has already seen some of the worst fire outbreaks since the start of spring.

“A long and challenging fire season is expected, and all states and the ACT are warning of increased fire danger as the fire season progresses,” the CRC report says.

It says all states have had challenging fire conditions, which have been exacerbated by the second-warmest January-November period on record for Australia.

“Catastrophic fire danger ratings have been issued in NSW, WA, SA and Victoria, and there has been loss of human lives and animals, and damage to property and the environment,” the CRC says.

A separate release from the Bureau of Meteorology today predicts several days of “significant heat” for the south-east region this week.

Temperatures in inland SA, Victoria and NSW could soar to as high as mid-40 degrees.

“For many areas, severe to extreme heatwave conditions will be felt,” BOM meteorologist Sarah Scully said.

The NSW Rural Fire Service reports at least 700 homes have been destroyed by the ongoing fire catastrophe.

A massive bushfire in the Blue Mountains destroyed a number of homes last night, the service says.

In WA, a massive bushfire has burned almost 12,000 hectares of land north of Perth.