Smoke billows into the air as fires rage across the south-eastern coast of Australian island-state Tasmania. The massive bush fires have been burning since Thursday, prompted by a record-heat wave in Tasmania that is also ravaging the Australian continent with extreme temperatures. The blazes have cut off communities and hampered search efforts in devastated regions, prompting firefighters to issue emergency warnings in cities like Taranna, just east of the capital. Australian police and defense forces have been deployed to search wreckage in the worst-hit towns. Although the heat did ease over the weekend, weather experts predict the reprieve will be short, with high temperatures set to return mid-week. The heat wave struck Western Australia on Dec. 27 and lasted eight days to become the fiercest of its kind in 80 years. Bush fires are a major problem here in the summer because the season is extremely hot, dry and windy.
Jan. 6 - Firefighters issue more emergency warnings to residents as Tasmanian bush fires continue to burn. Jessica Gray reports. ( Transcript )
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