Last updated at 13:15 BST, Monday, 21 October 2013

Australian bush fires

Summary

21 October 2013

A state of emergency has been declared in New South Wales in Australia as firefighters continue to battle bush fires. Two hundred homes have been destroyed so far. Weather conditions are expected to deteriorate with high temperatures and strong winds forecast in the coming days.

Reporter:

Jon Donnison

Firefighters trying to out bushfires

More than 550 firefighters are trying to control several large bush fires across New South Wales in Australia.

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Report

Here amid the smokey haze of the bush, the heat hits the senses. Temperatures are back in the mid-30s making the work of firefighters increasingly difficult. Helicopters whirr overhead dumping water on the nearby fire fronts. They’re trying to stop several fires from merging into one huge blaze spanning hundreds of kilometres.

In several communities, people are being warned not to try and stay put to defend their homes. With hundreds of houses already destroyed, disaster welfare centres have been set up where families can start the planning needed to rebuild their lives. Most of the firefighters are volunteers. Many look exhausted; some have even lost their own homes.

The fires follow unseasonably hot weather; conditions are expected to worsen throughout the week with dangerously strong winds forecast on Wednesday and little let-up in the temperature.

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Vocabulary

haze

heat or smoke in the air

hits the senses

immediately makes you see, hear, smell, taste and feel it

merging

mixing together

spanning

spreading over an area

stay put

not move

defend

protect (from the fire)

welfare

care and help for people in need

volunteers

people who help to do something without being paid

unseasonably

weather that is not normal for that time of year

little let-up

not much drop or reduction