Australia

Blue Mountains bushfire 'still a risk'

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Media captionThe bushfire west of Sydney destroyed at least one house at the weekend

A bushfire that damaged homes in the Blue Mountains at the weekend is still a risk to residents, say firefighters.

New South Wales authorities have told residents not to be complacent about the fire, which started on Saturday.

Firefighters said on Sunday they had contained the blaze, which destroyed one home and damaged several others, but told locals to remain alert.

In an early start to Sydney's bushfire season, the fire burned through 20 hectares of bushland.

South Katoomba Fire Service Captain Steve Parrot said despite authorities downgrading the fire to advice level, residents should remain alert to the dangers.

"We need to keep a good watch until that fire is declared by the Rural Fire Service as completely out, so maintain your bushfire awareness plan," he told local media.

Experts have warned that some areas of Australia are becoming uninhabitable because of the increased risk of fire and that worse-than-normal seasons are becoming the norm.

The Climate Council, a research body, predicts the total economic cost of bush fires in NSW will be A$43m ($37m; £24m) in 2014.

Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins told the BBC the concept of a "normal" fire season was redundant and people had to accept that property losses were now inevitable.

"We treat every summer now as worst-case scenario. On [catastrophic fire weather warning] days, there's basically nothing we can do except save lives by getting information out there."

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