Wildfires threaten the suburbs of Australia’s largest city, Sydney, as an investigation finds out the fires were ignited by a military exercise.
A fire service spokesman said late Wednesday that more than 1,500 Australian firefighters continue to battle the fire to keep flames from reaching the western suburbs of Sydney.
A combination of high winds and temperatures have fueled fears the bushfires burning across a 1,000-mile stretch of New South Wales would spread even farther.
Meanwhile, investigators have found that a massive fire broke out at a Defense Department training area near the city of Lithgow last week. It then spread fast, starting scores of new blazes that killed one man and destroyed over 200 homes in the affected region.
The Defense Department has declined to comment on the investigators’ findings, but earlier confirmed that an explosive ordnance drill was carried out on October 16. Senior officials of the department say they have ordered an urgent investigation into the case.
Hundreds of firefighters are battling more than 60 active blazes, which have been spreading in New South Wales since October 17.
According to the officials, the fires are the worst over the past 40 years.
“Never before have we seen the extent of damage and destruction and wide-scale fire activity at this time of the year,” said Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, adding, “We need to remind ourselves that we have still got a long way to go as we look down the coming months into summer.”
Bushfires are common during Australia’s summer months lasting through December and February.
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