Australian Bush Fires

Once again, Australia is experiencing terrible bush fires. The temperatures are in the 40s in many places and could reach 50 degrees next weekend north of Adelaide in South Australia. Strong winds help to spread the fires. The leaves from eucalyptus trees contain oil and they burn easily. In fact, many native trees like eucalyptus need fire to open the seed pods for germination so fires are common in Australia.

Today, about 90% of New South Wales, including Sydney, is in danger from bush fires. About 1,300 fire-fighters are working in extreme heat.

Although most of the fires in Tasmania are under control, new fires start easily if the wind increases. Two crews of rural fire-fighters from New Zealand travelled to Tasmania to give the Tasmanian fire-fighters a rest.

Four years ago, New Zealand helped in the state of Victoria when fires around Melbourne killed more than 200 people.

Listen to March 4th 2009 and February 9th 2009 to hear more about this.

Most people have air conditioning in their homes but it does not work very well in those temperatures. They go to the movie theatres or shopping malls which have better air conditioning. Outside the air is polluted from the fires.

Vocabulary

• eucalyptus trees – also called gum trees
• germination – the seed starts to grow
• extreme heat – much higher temperature than usual
• under control – this is an important idiom to learn
• crew – a group of people working together
• rural – in the country not the city






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