Australia firefighters focus on floods after rain lessens blazes

More than 200mm of rain fell in parts of New South Wales since Thursday. (AP pic)

SYDNEY: Australia’s firefighters, exhausted after several months battling devastating bushfires across the country, are now having to focus on a new peril: flooding.

The Rural Fire Service in New South Wales said it’s shifted its focus from fires to floods, after more than 200mm of rain fell in parts of the state since Thursday with more on the way.

“The flood risk is evolving,” said Adam Morton, meteorologist at the country’s weather bureau in a Friday update.

“We’re looking at the potential for flash flooding, overland flooding and river rises. This includes in areas currently impacted by fires.”

With rain expected over the weekend, parts of the state are likely to receive their highest rainfall since March 2017, he said.

The deluge could further reduce the number of bushfires still burning in the state. A Friday update from the RFS said there were more than 40 fires, down from 62 on Feb 5.

Australia is grappling with the fallout from the country’s worst fire season in generations, which saw more than 3,000 homes destroyed and claimed at least 31 lives.