It looks as though the situation has eased slightly in New South Wales although the toll has been heavy, with at least one death, and over 190 homes destroyed by the fires so far. Officials speculate that the situation could worsen again in the days ahead, due to unfavourable weather conditions, but so far most of the “Emergency” alerts have been downgraded to “Watch and Act”. As to the cause of the blazes, the NSW Rural Fire Service stated:
Preliminary investigations by NSW RFS fire investigators on the Linksview Road (Springwood) and Mt York (Mount Victoria) fires have determined the fires started as a result of powerlines during strong winds.
One official (possibly the NSW Premier) made mention on ABC News 24 television of a “military” reason for the fire(s) in the Lithgow area due to the proximity of some kind of training ground. A search turned up this article that mentions:
The Australian Defence Force said it was investigating the circumstances of the fire near Lithgow, which began on defence land.
“The fire started on 16 October, the same day that Defence personnel were conducting an explosive ordnance training activity,” it said in a statement.
“Defence is investigating if the two events are linked.”
Another of the ‘big’ fires took place quite a distance from these two – closer to Wollongong than Sydney. It seems somewhat co-incidental that such large blazes could all start at approximately the same time over such a large geographic area and not have any singular, causative factor behind it.
A ‘live’ map can be found on the ABC News website here.
My thoughts and hopes for a swift recovery go out to all affected by these fires.