Christmas snow in Australia eases fire danger


  • World
  • Monday, 25 Dec 2006

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian firefighters dreaming of a white Christmas had their wishes come true with snow falling on mountains blackened by weeks of bushfires.

Light dustings of snow were reported by the Bureau of Meteorology in the mountain regions of Tasmania and Victoria, the two eastern states worst affected by Christmas season fires. 

The burst of wintry weather is in stark contrast to the blistering summer temperatures and high winds of the past few weeks that have driven the fires that have destroyed dozens of homes. 

Snow lies atop mountains in the alpine area of the state of Victoria on Christmas Day December 25, 2006. Australian firefighters dreaming of a white Christmas had their wishes come true with snow falling on mountains blackened by weeks of bushfires. (REUTERS/David Gray)

Up to 50 millimetres (two inches) of rain on Christmas Eve brought snow to mountain ski regions that have long been shut for the summer. 

Blazes in December have burned out nearly 900,000 hectares (2.25 million acres) of forests in Victoria -- an area about the size of Cyprus. 

More than 800 firefighters have been sent home for Christmas with 900 remaining on duty over the Christmas season, local media reported. 

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