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Milder Temperatures Calm Australian Wildfire Fears, Worries

  • In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service a wildfire near Deans Gap, Australia, crosses the Princes Highway Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Firefighters are battling scores of wildfires in southeastern Australia as authorities evacuate national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level. (AP Photo/NSW Rural Fire Service, James Morris)

    In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service a wildfire near Deans Gap, Australia, crosses the Princes Highway Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Firefighters are battling scores of wildfires in southeastern Australia as authorities evacuate national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level. (AP Photo/NSW Rural Fire Service, James Morris)

  • In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service a wildfire near Deans Gap, Australia, crosses the Princes Highway Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Firefighters are battling scores of wildfires in southeastern Australia as authorities evacuate national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level. (AP Photo/NSW Rural Fire Service, James Morris)

    In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service a wildfire near Deans Gap, Australia, crosses the Princes Highway Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Firefighters are battling scores of wildfires in southeastern Australia as authorities evacuate national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level. (AP Photo/NSW Rural Fire Service, James Morris)

  • John O'Reilly takes refuge in the cool water behind a waterfall of a fountain in central Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, as the temperature reaches 42 degrees Celsius (107.6. degrees Fahrenheit). Temperatures across much of New South Wales state are expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) creating severe wildfire conditions. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

    John O'Reilly takes refuge in the cool water behind a waterfall of a fountain in central Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, as the temperature reaches 42 degrees Celsius (107.6. degrees Fahrenheit). Temperatures across much of New South Wales state are expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) creating severe wildfire conditions. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

  • John O'Reilly takes a dip in the cooling water of a fountain in central Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, as the temperature reaches 42 degrees Celsius (107.6. degrees Fahrenheit). Temperatures across much of New South Wales state are expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) creating severe wildfire conditions. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

    John O'Reilly takes a dip in the cooling water of a fountain in central Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, as the temperature reaches 42 degrees Celsius (107.6. degrees Fahrenheit). Temperatures across much of New South Wales state are expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) creating severe wildfire conditions. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

  • In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service a wildfire near Deans Gap, Australia, crosses the Princes Highway Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Firefighters are battling scores of wildfires in southeastern Australia as authorities evacuate national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level. (AP Photo/NSW Rural Fire Service, James Morris)

    In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service a wildfire near Deans Gap, Australia, crosses the Princes Highway Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Firefighters are battling scores of wildfires in southeastern Australia as authorities evacuate national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level. (AP Photo/NSW Rural Fire Service, James Morris)

  • In this Jan. 4, 2013, photo provided by the Holmes family, Tammy Holmes, second from left, and her grandchildren, two-year-old Charlotte Walker, left, four-year-old Esther Walker, third from left, nine-year-old Liam Walker, eleven-year-old Matilda, second from right, and six-year-old Caleb Walker, right, take refuge under a jetty as a wildfire rages near-by  in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, Australia. The family credits God with their survival from the fire that destroyed around 90 homes in Dunalley. Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer’s extreme heat and fire risk. (AP Photo/Holmes Family, Tim Holmes) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

    In this Jan. 4, 2013, photo provided by the Holmes family, Tammy Holmes, second from left, and her grandchildren, two-year-old Charlotte Walker, left, four-year-old Esther Walker, third from left, nine-year-old Liam Walker, eleven-year-old Matilda, second from right, and six-year-old Caleb Walker, right, take refuge under a jetty as a wildfire rages near-by in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, Australia. The family credits God with their survival from the fire that destroyed around 90 homes in Dunalley. Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer’s extreme heat and fire risk. (AP Photo/Holmes Family, Tim Holmes) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

  • In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service a wildfire near Deans Gap, Australia, crosses the Princes Highway Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Firefighters are battling scores of wildfires in southeastern Australia as authorities evacuate national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level. (AP Photo/NSW Rural Fire Service, James Morris)
  • In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service a wildfire near Deans Gap, Australia, crosses the Princes Highway Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Firefighters are battling scores of wildfires in southeastern Australia as authorities evacuate national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level. (AP Photo/NSW Rural Fire Service, James Morris)
  • John O'Reilly takes refuge in the cool water behind a waterfall of a fountain in central Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, as the temperature reaches 42 degrees Celsius (107.6. degrees Fahrenheit). Temperatures across much of New South Wales state are expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) creating severe wildfire conditions. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
  • John O'Reilly takes a dip in the cooling water of a fountain in central Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, as the temperature reaches 42 degrees Celsius (107.6. degrees Fahrenheit). Temperatures across much of New South Wales state are expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) creating severe wildfire conditions. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
  • In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service a wildfire near Deans Gap, Australia, crosses the Princes Highway Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Firefighters are battling scores of wildfires in southeastern Australia as authorities evacuate national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level. (AP Photo/NSW Rural Fire Service, James Morris)
  • In this Jan. 4, 2013, photo provided by the Holmes family, Tammy Holmes, second from left, and her grandchildren, two-year-old Charlotte Walker, left, four-year-old Esther Walker, third from left, nine-year-old Liam Walker, eleven-year-old Matilda, second from right, and six-year-old Caleb Walker, right, take refuge under a jetty as a wildfire rages near-by  in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, Australia. The family credits God with their survival from the fire that destroyed around 90 homes in Dunalley. Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer’s extreme heat and fire risk. (AP Photo/Holmes Family, Tim Holmes) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Cooma, Australia — Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled yesterday, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer’s extreme heat and fire risk.

Australia had its hottest day on record on Monday with a nationwide average of 104.59 degrees Fahrenheit, narrowly breaking a 1972 record of 104.31F.

Tuesday was the third hottest day at 104.20F. Four of Australia’s hottest 10 days on record have been in 2013.

“There’s little doubt that this is a very, very extreme heat wave event,” Bureau of Meteorology manager of climate monitoring and prediction David Jones said.

“If you look at its extent, its duration, its intensity, it is arguably the most significant in Australia’s history,” he added.

With Wednesday’s cool-down in southern Australia, the national capital, Canberra, dropped from a high of 97F on Tuesday to 82F and Sydney dropped from 109F to 73F.

Jones expected that yesterday would also rank among Australia’s hottest days when the national temperatures are calculated. That’s because the extreme heat has shifted from the heavier populated south to northern and central Australia.

The bureau forecast above average temperatures for the remainder of summer, compounding the fire danger created by a lack of rain across central and southern Australia over the past six months.

“It is going to be very challenging,” Jones said of the wildfire danger.

No deaths have been reported, although around 100 people haven’t been accounted for since last week when a fire destroyed around 90 homes in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart.

Yesterday, police spokeswoman Lisa Stingel said it’s likely most of those people simply haven’t checked in with officials.

“There are no reports of missing persons in circumstances that cause us to have grave fears for their safety at this time,” Tasmania Police Acting Commissioner Scott Tilyard said in a statement.

Thousands of cattle and sheep as well as wildlife are suspected to have been killed.

In Victoria state, north of Tasmania, a fire injured six people, destroyed four homes and caused the evacuation of the farming community of Carngham, Country Fire Authority operations officer Ian Morley said.

Cooler conditions yesterday had brought relief to firefighters who would work through the day to build earth breaks to fully contain the fire ahead of warmer temperatures forecast for tomorrow, Morley said.

“We have had very mild, cool conditions overnight which is a great help to the fire suppression effort,” he said.

North of Victoria in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, firefighters were battling 141 fires, including 31 that had not yet been contained.

Fires have burnt through more than 324,000 acres of forest and farmland since Tuesday.

The Rural Fire Service has issued contradictory reports on whether a home was destroyed there.

Fires burning out of control near the towns of Cooma, Yass and Shoalhaven were the most concerning in that state.

Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said the cool reprieve was expected to be short-lived, with temperatures forecast to climb again by the end of the week.

“We don’t need new fires today,” he said.

The fires have been most devastating in Tasmania where at least 128 homes have been destroyed since Friday.

Hundreds of people remain at two evacuation centers in the state’s south, as fires continue to burn more than 80,000 hectares since last week.

“People have lost everything. We can’t comprehend that devastation unless we are in their shoes,” Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings said.

The fires have consumed over 80,000 hectares (198,000 acres) in Tasmania since last week.

Wildfires are common during the Australian summer. Fires in February 2009 killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes in Victoria state.