http://theconversation.com/

Firefighters raced to contain massive bushfires in Southeastern Australia, taking advantage of a brief drop in temperatures and some much-needed rainfall before another heatwave strikes later this week.

Exhausted volunteers cleared ground vegetation and carried out controlled burns before temperatures and winds were expected to pick up again by Friday.

New South Wales rural fire service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons described current conditions as “much more favourable” but warned that hotter weather to return later in the week”.

Dozens of vast blazes continue to burn out of control across the east of the country and there are growing fears that two fires in New South Wales and Victoria could connect to form another uncontrollable Megablaze.

Twenty-five people have died since the start of the disaster in September, more than 1,800 homes have been destroyed, and some eight million hectares has burned, an area the size of Ireland or South Carolina.