Oct. 23 - Bushfires around Sydney burn on but weather that could have caused a catastrophic mega-fire did not materialize. Paul Chapman reports.
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PART NINE NETWORK - NO ACCESS AUSTRALIA / NEW ZEALAND / PAPUA NEW GUINEA / AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, PAPUA NEW GUINEA-BASED INTERNET SITES, MOBILE PLATFORMS OR SITES OF MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS BASED IN THOSE COUNTRIES, NVO CLIENTS / SMH.COM.AU / NEWS.COM.AU
More than 2, 000 fire-fighters were battling the bushfires of New South Wales on Wednesday.
But they were spared the worsening weather conditions that could have created catastrophic fire storm conditions.
The state's fire chief said some of the residents warned to flee their homes could return later in the day.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW SOUTH WALES RURAL FIRE SERVICE COMMISSIONER, SHANE FITZSIMMONS, SAYING:
"If you've been someone that has chosen to depart the Blue Mountains today and head to Penrith to relocate, have a cup of tea and be out of harms way, then it would be save to head back home tonight because the risk has been averted."
Some residents have been telling how they grabbed just the crucial basics of their lives and went.
SOUNDBITE) (English) UNKNOWN RESIDENT, SAYING:
"Got our dog, took a lot of our papers and things with us. I've got the boot of our car filled up with insurance papers, our wills, etc."
Record hot and dry weather across the continent and an early start to the fire season have revived suggestions of climate change.
It's an idea rejected by Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER TONY ABBOTT SAYING:
"Climate change is real, as I often said, and we should take strong action against it but these fires are certainly not a function of climate change, they are just a function of life in Australia."
Climate scientists have pinpointed Australia as the nation most at risk from global warming.
They're warning the fires, floods and droughts already a feature of the continent are likely to get worse.
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