Australia heatwave: Bushfire kills one

A helicopter flies above a fire in the Northern Grampians, Victoria, Australia, 17 January 2014 Image copyright Victoria Country Fire Authority
Image caption Firefighters are battling dozens of blazes in Australia

Bushfires in Australia's Victoria state have killed one person, as parts of the country face another day of soaring temperatures.

A body was found in the Northern Grampians area. Authorities say the bushfire in the area is out of control and have told residents to evacuate.

There are also blazes in the states of South Australia and New South Wales, with several fire alerts in place.

South-east Australia has faced days of soaring temperatures.

Police say they are treating the death in the Northern Grampians as "occurring as a result of the fires".

Earlier this week, hot weather led to power outages for tens of thousands of households and play at the Australian Open tennis tournament was briefly suspended.

Both Melbourne and Adelaide experienced weather above 40C (104F) on Friday.

'Massive plume'

There were at least 43 blazes in Victoria, 16 in South Australia, and 12 in New South Wales on Friday, authorities said.

Greg Nettleton, from the South Australian Country Fire Authority, said: "We will get more [fire] starts, that's pretty much guaranteed."

"But we're ready for what the weather might serve up to us today."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Adelaide and Melbourne have been experiencing temperatures higher than 40C (104F)

As of 12:00 (01:00 GMT), the fire in the Northern Grampians was 210 sq km (81 sq miles) in size, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) said.

Rohan McDonald, owner of a tourist park on the edge of Grampians National Park, told the Australian Associated Press: "We are covered in smoke, there is a massive plume that looks like an atomic bomb has gone off over the top of the mountain."

Lee Hutchinson, a resident from Laharum, a community near the Grampians National Park, told ABC he saw: "Huge masses of trees igniting. Probably flames reaching 40, 50, up to 100 feet (30m) in the air."

The CFA described the fire as "fast moving" and "out of control" in a warning notice urging residents to evacuate.

In other areas, residents were told to shelter indoors as it was too late to leave.

Earlier this week, a tennis player and a ball boy fainted in the heat during the Australian Open in Melbourne.

On Thursday, organisers enforced their extreme heat policy, suspending matches on outside courts.

Also on Thursday, an interim report from Australia's Climate Council said the number of heatwaves in the country was "projected to increase significantly."

The Climate Council report attributed the development to climate change, caused by greenhouse gases.

2013 was recently declared Australia's hottest year on record.

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