Sydney bushfire deemed deliberate act

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Sydney, April 16 (IANS) A large bushfire that has threatened homes in Sydney is likely to have been deliberately lit, Australian authorities said on Monday.

The blaze, which began on Saturday, has burnt through 2,500 hectares of land in the city’s southern suburbs, reports the BBC.

Some residents had been warned of immediate danger to their lives, but firefighters say the threat has eased.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) described the blaze as “highly suspicious”.

“How dare anyone – if they are deliberately involved in lighting fires – endanger our firefighters and also (put) all these communities in harm’s way,” said Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.

The bushfire forced some locals to evacuate their homes on the weekend, while others were told it was too dangerous to leave.

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The present weather in south-eastern Australia has been unseasonably hot, with strong winds fanning bushfires.

Authorities said wind speeds were not as severe on Monday, making it easier to battle the blaze.

Fitzsimmons said flames travelled “right up to the back fences” of houses, but no properties had been lost, reports the BBC.

The police have declared the fire a crime scene.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has praised the emergency response.

“It is unseasonably hot and that’s a matter of obviously great concern, but we have to deal with the worst that Mother Nature can throw at us and the worse Australians are presented with by nature, the better it brings out the Australian spirit,” he said.

–IANS

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