bush fires

Australian PM admits mistakes in handling of fire crisis

The PM has faced mounting criticism over his government's response to the bushfires and its climate policy.

Since September, bushfires have killed at least 28 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

On Sunday, Mr Morrison conceded there were "things I could have handled on the ground much better".

In recent weeks, Mr Morrison has been heckled by locals when visiting fire-hit communities in the states of New South Wales and Victoria, where the worst blazes are concentrated.

PM Morrison apologises for US holiday amid crisis

Crews are battling over 100 fires amid a heatwave which has produced the nation's two hottest days on record.

Two volunteer firefighters died in a road accident on Thursday while deployed to a huge blaze near Sydney.

Mr Morrison said he would end his leave early. His absence this week has drawn condemnation and protests.

"I deeply regret any offence caused to any of the many Australians affected by the terrible bushfires by my taking leave with family at this time," he said on Friday.

Sydney blanketed by smoke from NSW bushfires

Strong winds overnight brought smoke from fires inland, pushing the air quality in Australia's largest city to beyond "hazardous" levels at times.

On social media, locals have described hazy skies and the stench of smoke in their homes.

About five million people live in the state capital of New South Wales, which has been affected for weeks by fires.

Six people have died in bushfires in the state's north since October.

Sydney residents were warned about severe fire danger on Tuesday, as temperatures soared to 37C (98.6F) in the city's west.

Bush fires wreak havoc in New Caledonia

That figure has been given by the Civil Security organisation, which has gradually extended its extreme fire risk warning to now nearly all of New Caledonia, including the islands of Ouvea and Belep.

With winds still strong, there is no immediate relief in sight.

The authorities say at the same time last year just under five square kilometres had been burnt.

A territory-wide fire ban will remain in force until 15 December.

The ban exempts the use of fire for cooking in domestic situations.

Australia bushfire threatens Sydney suburbs homes

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) said it was concerned that flying embers could spark new blazes ahead of the advancing fire front.

Some residents have been instructed to seek shelter as evacuation is now too dangerous.

Recent weather in south-eastern Australia has been unseasonably hot.

Shane Fitzsimmons from the RFS said the fire was behaving "very aggressively".

Strong winds have been pushing the flames north and east towards suburban areas.

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."