Teenagers charged as Australia's bushfires continue

Teenagers charged as Australia's bushfires continue

Published at 12:11am 12th September 2019. (Updated at 5:26am 12th September 2019)

Two teenagers have been charged in connection with one of the dozens of bushfires devastating parts of Australia.

The 14-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl are accused of deliberately lighting a fire that destroyed one home, severely damaged another, and ripped through bushland near the Queensland town of Peregian Beach.

Police say the pair were among a group of teenagers who had gathered in bushland on Monday afternoon at the time the fire was lit.

Hundreds of residents were forced to flee their homes in the Sunshine Coast community and it was two days before the fire was under control and they were able to return.

There are still around 70 fires burning in Queensland.

Neil Gallant, from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, told ABC radio: "Be ready for the worst because this is going to be a very long season."

Mr Gallant said about 100 firefighters were expected from other states to relieve Queensland crews that had been working "day and night for a week".

There are also 320 firefighters battling 50 fires in neighbouring New South Wales.

Fourteen of those are uncontained, according to the state's Rural Fire Service.

Nine homes have been lost in New South Wales and 17 in Queensland, 9 News reported.

The weather is about to make things more difficult, with fire danger to increase during Thursday and Friday.

Diana Eadie, a meteorologist at Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, said: "Very high fire dangers could result in renewed fire activity over fire sites in New South Wales from Thursday and Queensland from Friday.

"Dry and gusty conditions have hampered firefighting efforts in recent days, however more recently we've seen a return of south to south-easterly winds with moisture gradually extending inland yesterday and today.

"This lull in fire dangers, however, will only be brief with temperatures beginning to climb again from Thursday. These warmer conditions will be accompanied by a freshening of the south to south-westerly winds, resulting in very high fire dangers over fire-affected areas in northeast New South Wales.

"These stronger winds will extend into Queensland by Friday, with fire dangers increasing across the south east."

It comes as much of eastern Australia struggles with drought, meaning there is little water for things other than fighting the fires.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corp, 97% of New South Wales and 65% of Queensland are in drought, with authorities encouraging firefighters to use dry firefighting methods where possible.

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