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NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia — Firefighters are working to stop a bushfire in southern New South Wales reaching a former military range scattered with unexploded bombs.
The Dean's Gap bushfire, one of more than 100 fires burning across the state, is out of control near Wandandian.
Fires are also burning in parts of Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland, after record temperatures earlier this week.
Just one kilometre west of the Dean's Gap blaze is the Tianjara plateau, which was used by the Army as a practice bombing range for 30 years until the mid-1970s.
It is now part of the Morton National Park, but unexploded ordnance remains scattered throughout the range.
Brett Loughlin from the Rural Fire Service (RFS) says unexploded bombs would make it impossible to fight a fire.
"We can't do any water-bombing with aircraft or something like that in case the weight of the water when it hits the ground sets off any unexploded ordnance," he said.
"So it's a total no-fly zone and that will mean [if] the fire gets into that area, there's nothing we can do for it except wait for it on the other side.
"So that could compound our firefighting strategies."
Mr Loughlin says crews are using a special gel and bulldozing containment lines to stop the fire from entering the range.
"We're looking at — as well as the backburning — using heavy machinery to creative mineral earth containment lines," he said.
"We're also using the aircraft, they can drop a special water-wetting agent called gel.
"They can drop that over areas to try and make things more fire resistant and less likely to burn, and if they do burn to slow down the intensity of that burn."
The Dean's Gap fire has now consumed around 6,000 hectares of bushland.
Eighty firefighters and up to eight helicopters are working to establish containment lines on the fire's northern front today.
Currently there are more than 100 separate fires burning across New South Wales, with 300,000 hectares of land destroyed so far.
The RFS took advantage of cooler conditions in the south overnight to tackle the worst blazes.
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