SYDNEY (Reuters) - Much of Australias wildfire-ravaged east coast
was drenched on Friday by the biggest rainfall in almost 20 years, dousing some
of the most dangerous blazes and providing welcome relief to farmers battling an
The downpour came with its own risks - officials warned of flash floods and
landslides across New South Wales (NSW), Australias most populous state - but
was generally greeted jubilantly after months of devastating bushfires.
Theres lots of smiles around the place, NSW Rural Fire Services (RFS)
Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who has been more accustomed in recent weeks to
delivering fire evacuation orders, told reporters in Sydney.
It is breaking the back of this fire season, no doubt, Fitzsimmons said. The
rain is good for business and farms as well as being really good for quenching
some of these fires weve been dealing with for many, many months.
The deluge had the effect of calming the number of active fires in NSW by 20 in
a single day, a success rate that NSW RFS said it was over the moon about.