/Rain falls in Australia but huge fires expected

Rain falls in Australia but huge fires expected

Three kangaroos stand near houses in Merimbula, New South Wales, on MondayImage copyright

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Milder conditions bring respite in Merimbula, New South Wales

Rain is falling in Australia and temperatures have dropped – but officials warn that fires ravaging the country will “take off” again.

Sooty rain fell down the east coast, from Sydney to Melbourne, with “torrential” rain reported in some parts of New South Wales (NSW).

But on Sunday night officials warned temperatures would rise by Thursday.

They also said huge fires in Victoria and New South Wales could meet to create a larger “mega blaze”.

“There is no room for complacency,” NSW state Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned on Monday morning.

Authorities have continued their efforts to provide supplies for thousands of people driven from their homes by the fires.

“This morning it is all about recovery, making sure people who have been displaced have somewhere safe,” Ms Berejiklian said.

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The past weekend had seen some of the worst days so far

The weekend saw some of the worst days of the crisis so far, with hundreds more properties destroyed. Rural towns and major cities saw red skies, falling ash and smoke that clogged the air.

But by Monday, there were no emergency warnings in fire-ravaged states, following the weather change. Victoria state had 25 “watch and act” alerts and South Australia had one “watch and act” alert.

In NSW, all fires were back at the “advice” level, the lowest alert level, Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

However, Victoria Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp warned “it will warm up” and the fires “will take off again”.

On Monday morning, there were only around 10km between a blaze in Victoria’s Corryong and two burning at Kosciuszko National Park in NSW.

“This will be a changing, dynamic situation,” he said, warning it was “inevitable” the fires would join across the border.

Turning from orange to grey

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Eden, NSW

With its drizzle and grey horizon, the wharf at Eden could almost be an English coastal town.

It’s hard to fathom that on Saturday night – as fire threatened and skies turned orange – this was where hundreds of people fled for the feeling of safety that came with being near water.

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This is what Eden, NSW, looked like on Saturday

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BBC Simon Atkinson

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Rain falls on the HMAS Adelaide in Eden on Monday

Most have now left. Some to their homes as the fire threat eased. Others to evacuation centres in bigger towns after authorities warned the wharf really wasn’t a safe option.

The rain is a welcome surprise, and has given some respite from the smoke-filled air.

But with hot dry conditions predicted later in the week, Eden’s people – like many in this corner if the country – are in limbo.

And the navy ship lurking off the coast – poised to help in rescue mission – is another reminder this is far from over.

Australia is fighting one of its worst bushfire seasons, fuelled by record-breaking temperatures and months of drought.

The country has always experienced bushfires but this year they are a lot worse than normal.

On the weekend, Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned the crisis might go on for months.

At least 24 people have died since the fires began in September. Air quality in the capital Canberra was recently rated the worst in the world.

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Media captionThe BBC’s Phil Mercer says Kangaroo Valley has “a horrible, ghostly feel”

Mr Morrison announced the creation of a recovery agency to help those who have lost homes and businesses in the fires.

And on Monday, he said more than A$100,000 (£53,000, $69,000) would be released for disaster relief while A$2bn would be committed to recovery over the next two years.

He has faced fierce criticism for his response to the fires – including for taking a holiday to Hawaii during the crisis.

Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop – and Mr Morrison’s Liberal Party colleague – said she thought the PM was “doing the best he can”, but said Canberra should show leadership on global climate change.

“We don’t have a national energy policy in this country and a national approach to climate change,” she said.

“If a country like Australia fails to show leadership, we can hardly blame other nations for not likewise showing leadership in this area.”

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