Cooling eases Australian fire threat

COOMA, Australia — Temperatures cooled from record highs across much of southern Australia on Wednesday, reducing the danger from scores of wildfires that have blazed for days.

Australia recorded its hottest day on record on Monday with a nationwide average of 104.6 degrees Fahrenheit, narrowly breaking a 1972 record of 104.3.

The Bureau of Meteorology will calculate later Wednesday whether Tuesday’s average was even hotter. With Wednesday’s cooldown, the national capital, Canberra, dropped from a high of 97 degrees on Tuesday to 82 degrees and Sydney dropped from 109 degrees to 73 degrees.


No deaths have been reported, although around 100 people have not been unaccounted for since last week when a fire destroyed about 90 homes in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart.

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On Wednesday, police spokeswoman Lisa Stingel said it is likely most of those people simply have not checked in with officials.

‘‘There are no reports of missing persons in circumstances that cause us to have grave fears for their safety at this time,’’ Tasmania Police Acting Commissioner Scott Tilyard said in a statement.

Thousands of cattle and sheep as well as wildlife are believed to have been killed.

In Victoria state, north of Tasmania, a fire injured six people, destroyed four homes, and caused the evacuation of the farming community of Carngham, Country Fire Authority operations officer Ian Morley said.


Cooler conditions on Wednesday brought relief to firefighters who would work through the day to build earth breaks to fully contain the fire ahead of warmer temperatures forecast for Friday, Morley said.