Three American firefighters were killed Thursday after a plane crashed to extinguish the flames on board in southeastern Australia, where forest fires extended again due to strong winds.
The seasonal disaster, which was disastrous this year, witnessed a decrease in the past days due to the rains and low temperatures, but the fighting resumed on Thursday with the announcement of an emergency situation regarding at least seven fires.
To extinguish one of these fires, a Hercules C-130 plane went out to fight a fire in a national park in the Snowy Mountains area of New South Wales, and the control tower lost contact with it at approximately 2.30 GMT.
Hours later, the authorities announced that the plane had crashed near Cooma, 120 km south of Canberra, and killed three Americans on board.
Details of the accident were not immediately known, but the chief of firefighters in rural areas of New South Wales Shine Vitsimons earlier spoke of "very difficult" flying conditions due to the wind.
David Mattelbraud, the Minister of Emergency Situations, considered this tragedy an indication of the "risks" that firefighters face to protect others.
This brings the death toll from Australia's fires to at least 32 people since the crisis began in September.
The three highly experienced Americans worked for the Canadian company "Coulson Aviation", which was asked to contribute to extinguishing the fires.
The company announced that it had sent a team to the scene.
And the state's prime minister, Gladys Perigclean, considered that the accident highlights the dangers firefighters face in their attempt to put out major fires in various parts of southeast Australia.
This air support is extremely important to the fire-fighting efforts of volunteers on the ground by firefighters.
The wind speed reached 90 km per hour on Thursday, but before the crash was announced, Fitzimons said the winds were stronger, especially in the south of this state.
"One of the major challenges with this wind is that it makes it difficult to take off planes and secure air support for the efforts of firefighters on the ground," he said.
"We are trying to use the largest planes and the largest helicopters, but it is very difficult. It is very dangerous to send the planes," he added.
Forest fires occur every year in Australia, but the separation of fires this time came early and heavy due to the ongoing drought, especially due to global warming.
Since September, more than one hundred thousand square kilometers, meaning lands as large as Portugal, have been destroyed, and more than two thousand homes have been destroyed.
More than a billion animals were also killed by the fire, researchers said.
And temperatures changed suddenly last week, with natural phenomena such as sandstorms in some areas.
Heavy rain sometimes allowed some fires to be put out. On the other hand, it complicated cleaning operations in other areas.
On Thursday, the heat wave and winds renewed, which could fuel fires again.