In Australia, the worst bushfires for twenty-five years have devastated wooded suburbs in an arc around Sydney.
GV Fires burning beyond Sydney skyline
AVs Flames in forest near houses and in open country (4 shots)
GV Fireman fighting flames on roadside at Terry Hills (2 shots)
SV Burning bushes and fireman at work (4 shots)
SV House owners fighting flames with sacking PAN ACROSS TO houses
SV Fireman spraying water into house
CU Burning fence posts and people running along road (3 shots)
GV Horses running in panic in corral
GV Firemen fighting blaze
SV Firemen using swimming pool water
GV Flames nearing road (2 shots)
AVs Smoke swept along by wind directions (3 shots)
"Surrounded to the south, to the west, to the north, a seemingly endless vision of heat, smoke haze and dry, tinder-box bushland, igniting and forming a sea of flames.
"This was Terry Hills and the Duffy Forest region late this afternoon. It was an isolated area. Men and women against the elements, and the elements were winning. Mona Vale Road, Forest Way and Wakehurst Parkway were closed. Thousands of people throughout Sydney, who had heard the news, tried to get through. They were turned back at strategic points to see only a wall of smoke, and behind that smoke, were their families and their homes. This was what confronted the women who had battled on at home. nature at its most ferocious, with only a road between them and disaster. But it was not all about people and houses. It was about animals, about domestic pets and horses scared witless, smelling encroaching death, and powerless to run away.
"This scene was repeated tens of times throughout Terry Hills. In fact, by 3:30 this afternoon (17 December), found flames in their backyard. Some simply abandoned everything and ran, while others rather futilely played puny garden hoses onto guttering. But, throughout the drama, volunteer bush fire brigades saved at least a house a minute.
"These houses were fortunate in having swimming pools providing a ready water supply for the fighting effort.
"Road and highways failed to stop the flames. In fact, in many cases, emergency vehicles were stopped in their tracks by flames across the road. It was only when viewed from the air, however, that the whole dreadful scene took on its true significance, Hundreds of hectares east of the Mona Vale Road burned violently, fanned by the relentless winds. Many of the buildings destroyed at first were stables and sheds used to store fire machinery. But, minute by minute, the smoke-covered front moved towards the residential areas. For many the massive clouds of smoke were warning enough. But others got caught by surprise. The fires sometimes approached from two, or three, separate directions."
REPORTER: ROD MCNEIL
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In Australia, the worst bushfires for twenty-five years have devastated wooded suburbs in an arc around Sydney. Hundreds of people fled their homes in the path of flames raging on three sides of the city, destroying houses, vehicles and caravans. Reuters news agency quoted New South Wales Bushfire Coordinator, Mr. Bill Hurditch as saying on Wednesday (19 December) that many of the fires were started deliberately. Officials said about twenty buildings were gutted in the fires. This report from Rod McNeil of Channel Ten in Sydney.