Australia mobilizes army to fight ‘catastrophic’ fires


Australia’s government has asked its army to use all available resources to fight “catastrophic” bush fires as a state of emergency was declared in New South Wales. 

Defense Minister Linda Reynolds asked the head of the Australian Defense Force to direct local base commanders to “use all available resources in bushfire fighting efforts,” the ministry said in a statement.

At least two people were killed while many others were injured and seven remain missing in bushfires that swept through northern Australia.

Early on Monday, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian declared a state of emergency for the next seven days.

High winds and hot weather triggered the bushfires in rural, New South Wales, according to state meteorologists.

Reynolds said despite their lack of firefighting training, army personnel “can provide other support for the nation’s front-line first responders.”

Over 1,000 firefighters and 70 helicopters are battling blazes.

The fires forced authorities to order the closure of nearly 350 schools and related campuses on Tuesday in Sydney, the Hunter region, Blue Mountains, and the south coast due to forecast “catastrophic” fire conditions, ABC news reported.

Last Friday at least 150 properties were destroyed in the state’s north with embers flying 12 kilometers from the front.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service warned that the “danger is real” and that live embers could fly up to 30 kilometers from the fire front, ABC said.

Carol Sparks, mayor of the town of Glen Innes in New South Wales, said that a school was lost, houses were burned, and lives were lost.

She added that residents battled to save their houses and then had to walk out “because their cars had blown up.”
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