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NSW: Bushfires burn as scorching heat arrives to NSW

By Vincent Morello
01 Feb 2009 6:26 PM

SYDNEY, Feb 1 AAP - A total fire ban has been issued for most of southern NSW as scorching temperatures move north in the coming days.

Twenty fires are burning across NSW and one in the Budawang National Park, near the NSW south coast, has torched more than 2,000ha.

Lightning sparked the blaze on January 20 in the remote bushland area about 30km northwest of Bateman's Bay.

A Rural Fire Service (RFS) spokesman said on Sunday that 12 water-bombing aircraft assisted firefighters trying to contain the fire on the northern and eastern fronts.

Further south, near the Victorian border, a bushfire has scorched about 340ha and continues to burn out of control.

The fire started on January 24, also from lightning, in the South East Forest National Park about 7km southeast from Wyndham.

Up to 15 aircraft have been working to slow the spread of the blaze since ground crews have been unable to access the difficult terrain and dangerous conditions.

Overnight on Saturday, three fires started in the Tumut area, west of Canberra, from a dry lightning storm.

Between 20ha and 60ha have burned at each location with crews working to contain the fires.

On Sunday, the RFS declared a total fire ban for the southwestern part of NSW and the eastern, southern and northern Riverina regions.

"We're expecting high bushfire risk to last another week," the RFS spokesman said.

Victoria is not out of the woods yet as firefighters there have contained an inferno that has destroyed 6,300ha and claimed 29 houses, 64 sheds, five cars, a truck and a piggery.

Temperatures soared past 40 degrees celsius last week in Victoria and South Australia but milder conditions on Saturday and Sunday were welcomed by the 500 firefighters battling the blaze.

The mercury will soar past 40 in western NSW from Monday to at least Thursday with temps ranging from the mid-20s to the mid-30s in other parts of the state.

In Sydney, temperatures in the CBD will start in the high 20s on Monday and climb to the mid-30s by next Sunday.

In the city's west, Monday will see highs of 35 degrees that will climb steadily to 42 degrees by Sunday.