Bushfires threaten to snap power to major Aus cities

Bushfires threaten to snap power to major Aus cities

The latest fatalities were in Kangaroo Island — a tourist haven southwest of Adelaide —when two people were trapped in a car overrun by flames on Friday

A satellite image shows wildfires burning east of Obrost, Victoria, Australia January 4, 2020. (Reuters Photo)

Skies turned black and ash rained down as fires raged across southeastern Australia on Saturday, threatening power supplies to major cities and prompting the call-up of 3,000 military reservists.

Temperature records were smashed, and gale-force winds pounded fire-stricken coastal communities in the two most populous states New South Wales and Victoria.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned that worst-case scenario projections were “coming to fruition”, although large-scale evacuations meant the human toll was minimised.

Since late September, 23 people have died, more than 1,500 homes have been damaged and an area roughly twice the size of Belgium or Hawaii has burned.

The latest fatalities were in Kangaroo Island — a tourist haven southwest of Adelaide —when two people were trapped in a car overrun by flames on Friday.

But strong winds and high temperatures continued to fuel hundreds of fires and cause chaos.

Bushfires took out two substations and transmission lines, prompting authorities in New South Wales that an area home to almost eight million people and the nation’s largest city Sydney could experience rolling blackouts.

“We are in for a long night and we have still to hit the worst of it,” Berejiklian warned as another total fire ban was declared for Sunday.

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