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Western Australia in “extreme” heat wave, raising bush fire risk

Sydney, Australia

Parts of Western Australia were gripped on Saturday by an “extreme” heat-wave, raising the risk of bush fires in the vast state, the nation’s weather forecaster said.

The Bureau of Meteorology had an “extreme heat-wave warning” in place on Saturday for the remote Pilbara and Gascoyne areas of Australia’s largest state, warning temperatures there could hit high forties degrees Celsius over the weekend.

In the Pilbara mining town of Paraburdoo, about 1,500 kilometres north of the state capital Perth, a maximum temperature of 47 degrees Celsius was forecast on Saturday, more than six degrees above the average January maximum, according to forecaster data. It was 42.7 degrees Celsius there at 11am.

Australia’s highest temperature on record of 50.7 degrees was logged at the Pilbara’s Onslow Airport on 13th January, 2022.

Saturday’s hot weather lifts the risk of bush fires in an already high-risk fire season amid an El Nino weather pattern, which is typically associated with extreme events such as wildfires, cyclones and droughts.

“Very hot and dry conditions combined with fresh southerly winds and a fresh to strong west to southwesterly sea breeze will lead to elevated fire dangers on Saturday,” the weather forecaster said on its website, regarding part of the Pilbara.

The warning comes after hundreds of firefighters earlier this month battled an out-of-control bush fire near Perth amid soaring temperatures, prompting evacuations.

Australia’s last two fire seasons have been subdued compared with the 2019-2020 “Black Summer” of bush fires that destroyed an area the size of Turkey, killed 33 people, three billion animals and trillions of invertebrates.



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