Saturday, February 28, 2009

Australian fires update, Feb. 28

Feb. 10, 2009. Tasmania, a very large island off the southeast coast of Australia, sent 90 firefighters and 29 fire trucks across the sea to help their mainland brothers and sisters. Photo: Brad Marsellos

Feb. 27, 2009. Tasmanian firefighters wait at a staging area in Warburton, west of Melbourne, for another assignment. AP

The severe fire weather that Australian firefighters had been expecting on Friday did not materialize, giving them an opportunity to make more progress on the four large fires that are still not under control. But the Tuesday forecast calls for very warm temperatures with gale-force north to north-westerly winds.

At least 37 people are still missing and 210 are known dead as a result of the Feb. 7 Black Saturday fires. From Reuters:
Brigadier Michael Arnold, head of a joint task force assisting state authorities in the search for bodies, said he anticipated new remains would be found after Australia's worst natural disaster in 110 years.

Victorian coroner Jennifer Coate has ordered more than 1,000 sites to be re-examined after human remains were found in areas already thought to have been cleared.

"The coroner wanted to be convinced that a reasonable search had been conducted," Australian Associated Press quoted Arnold as saying. He said the search would involve about 1,300 sites.

"It's not an easy task. We know that there are 37 missing persons still, the odds are we will come across human remains during this search," he said.

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