Firefighters in Australia have stepped up their efforts to contain a new outbreak of bush fires that are threatening property across the south east of the country. There has been no rain, extremely high temperatures and now a threat of high winds – tinder-dry conditions that together have prompted authorities to put the state of Victoria on high fire alert. The outbreaks are forming a front 1100 kilometres long.It is just three weeks since firestorms ravaged the area, killing more than 200 people. Victoria’s emergency services commissioner said residents living in areas near the fires needed to decide quickly whether to evacuate their homes, or stay and defend them. He said once the flames were in sight it would be too late to escape. Many of those who died earlier this month were trapped in their cars, trying to flee.