The biggest concern is a huge blaze in South Australia's Adelaide Hills, with firefighters racing to contain the inferno which has already destroyed up to 38 homes ahead of worsening weather conditions.
    
Wildfires are also burning in Western Australia and the southern state of Victoria, officials said, as the Bureau of Meteorology confirmed 2014 was "Australia's third-warmest year since national temperature observations commenced in 1910".
    
"Much of Australia experienced temperatures very much above average in 2014, with mean temperatures 0.91 degrees Celsius above the long-term average," said the bureau's Neil
Plummer.
    
The weather agency said that following Australia's warmest year on record in 2013, both maximum and minimum temperatures remained well above average in 2014, with "frequent periods of abnormally warm weather".
    
The years since 2002 have seen seven of Australia's 10 warmest years on record, it added.
    
Sarah Perkins, a research fellow at the University of New South Wales' Climate Change Research Centre, said Australia had sweltered through prolonged and extreme heatwaves in 2014 and its hottest spring on record.
    
"These warm conditions, particularly in spring, contributed to yet another early start to our bushfire season, and recent heatwave events have also contributed to heightened bushfire risk and poor firefighting conditions currently in South Australia," she said.

Latest News from World News Desk