Australian police warn public to stop taking pictures of wildfires

AUSTRALIA-BUSHFIRES

AUSTRALIA-BUSHFIRES

More than 60 fires were burning in New South Wales, with a third of those uncontained and officials issuing emergency level warnings for five in the state's south.

"The fire is growing and it may become unpredictable", Australian Capital Territory's Chief Minister Andrew Barr told newsmen.

Skies along the Monaro Highway in the Australian Capital Territory turned orange-red as an uncontrolled blaze ballooned to more than 35,000 hectares (74,000 acres) in size.

"Today's extreme heat. dry conditions and a severe fire danger rating means we can expect another very challenging firefighting day", the ACT's Emergency Services Agency Commissioner Georgeina Whelan said in a televised briefing in Canberra.

"The conditions will potentially become more unsafe and the fire may pose a threat to lives directly in its path", said Whelan. Away from the fire grounds, intense rainfall was forecast, with authorities warning of potential "dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding".

Spot fires were sparked by embers carried on winds up to 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the fire front, and some of those fires will eventually merge with the main fire, she said.

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The measures come ahead of heatwave conditions expected over the coming days and as forecasts predicted fires could hit southern suburbs of the city of about 400,000.

The Orroral Valley bushfire was on Saturday afternoon downgraded from emergency to "watch and act" after southern ACT residents were earlier warned the 55,000-hectare fire could pose a threat to lives.

Firefighters kept wildfires back using airdrops of fire retardant to create a 2.5-kilometer (1.55-mile) defensive line.

A fire near Canberra which has crossed the border to threaten homes in NSW is among multiple emergency situations across eastern Australia.

Australia's federal parliament is located in Canberra, which is also home to several government and independent institutions as well as national museums. It is the area's first since 2003 when four people were killed and nearly 500 homes destroyed in wildfires.

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