Soaring temperatures are set to stoke simmering bushfires in Australia's southeast on Thursday with Sydney forecast to hit 41 degrees Celsius following a few days of reprieve.
A forest fire near the airport in Canberra, which had triggered evacuation warnings in the capital's eastern suburbs on Wednesday, was under control with no properties under threat, the Australian Capital Territory's emergency authority said.
Firefighters in New South Wales (NSW) were tackling 79 blazes on Thursday, all at the lowest warning level while air quality in the country's biggest city, Sydney, was forecast to drop to poor.
Heavy rain in Melbourne doused any threat of smoke haze hitting players at the Australian Open tennis tournament, with air quality rated as good. Last week, a player collapsed in a coughing fit from bushfire smoke during qualifying rounds at the tournament.
Since September, hundreds of wildfires in Australia have killed 29 people as well as an estimated 1 billion native animals, while incinerating 2,500 homes and a total area of bushland one-third the size of Germany.
The disaster hit the Christmas and summer holiday season, emptying out caravan parks and hotels, devastating peak earnings for businesses dependent on domestic and foreign tourists.
It has certainly been the worst summer in living memory and arguably it's been the worst summer ever for Australian tourism, Australian Tourism Industry Council director Simon Westaway told The Australian newspaper.
Sydney was set for a hot and windy day, with a high temperature of 41 degrees Celsius, while the capital Canberra was forecast to hit 33 degrees Celsius, facing windy conditions and dust haze, the Bureau of Meteorology said.