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Ipswich/Australia: Witches star tells of shocking bushfires

14:00 15 January 2013

Ipswich V Edinburgh KOCup semi final 9th October 2012
Rohan Tungate.
Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich V Edinburgh KOCup semi final 9th October 2012 Rohan Tungate. Picture: Steve Waller

Stephen Waller

WITCHES speedway star Rohan Tungate has told of the shocking scale of bushfires near his Kurri Kurri home in New South Wales, Australia.

The 22-year-old has described how emergency services from “towns hours away” have descended on small places like Kurri Kurri, as the fires burn out of control.

“It’s pretty bad,” Tungate said.

“The fires have been about five minutes away from where we live and all you can see is smoke rising in the distance. The emergency vehicles are coming to us from towns hours away.

“I haven’t known anything like it. It’s just been so hot. Kurri Kurri is surrounded by bush and the fires can get pretty close. But we are all okay”.

Temperatures have averaged 35C (98F) on most days in New South Wales in the last month, with Tungate admitting it has been hotter than that on most days.

“I rode speedway at Gilman a few weeks ago and the temperature was 45 degrees. It was ridiculous,” he added.

“At a meeting recently, they had to put the start time back to 8pm in the evening because it was too hot. But even at 8pm it’s too hot!

“I’m enjoying the sun while I can. I hear it’s pretty cold in Ipswich right now.”

Tungate has always lived in Kurri Kurri, where he started his motorbike racing. He joined the Witches last season and was voted rider of the year by Witches fans after an impressive debut season.

He is back in the ‘Sackers’ Witches side in 2013. Their season starts in March.

Meanwhile, residents in New South Wales are being urged to stay alert, with authorities warning any of the almost 100 bush fires burning across the state could turn disastrous as hot and windy conditions worsened.

As temperatures soared into the 40s over the weekend, the region was clearly not out of the woods yet, with Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons revealing “thousands and thousands” of firefighters were on the ground or on standby in case the situation worsened.

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