QLD: Northern floods claim life
A 50-year-old grazier drowned late this afternoon when he fell into flooded Balfes Creek, 50km SW of Charters Towers. He was carrying out repairs to a bridge on his property when the accident occurred. A BoM Townsville spokesman said Balfes Creek had recorded 343mm in the four days to 26 January, and locals said the creek was still running a banker. The man's body was found on Saturday morning 500m downstream from where he fell into the creek.
SA, VIC, TAS: Lightning sparks fires across 3 states
A nearly stationary trough from north of Adelaide to around Hobart fostered thunderstorms yesterday and again today. Lightning was credited with starting scores of blazes in the three southeastern states. While the heat did not help firefighters, high humidity levels and mostly light variable winds limited fire spread.
In SA, firefighters contained two fires burning through mallee country at Stockyard Plain, SE of Morgan in the Murray Valley. The fires, about 2km and 1km in diameter, were started by lightning last night. Two other fires begun by lightning yesterday continued to burn out of control in the Mount Rescue Conservation Park north of Keith in the state's southeast. They had burnt through about 2,000 and 1,600ha respectively by this evening.
In VIC, 28 fires were started by lightning today, bringing the Department of Sustainability and Environment tally of storm-initiated fires to over 80 since Tuesday evening. The largest blaze, in the Little Desert National Park in the far west was contained tonight after burning through 3,000ha. Other fires have been small, reported from around Portland, the Otways and the Grampians in the west and in Gippsland in the east.
In TAS, a fire started by lightning yesterday afternoon on the southern slopes of Mt Murchison near Tullah on the West Coast stretched Parks and Wildlife Service firefighters today. It burnt through about 500ha of thick West Coast forest and undergrowth, more normally sodden than flammable.