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Boy Dies After Hike as Heatwave Sparks Australian Fire Alerts

Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- A 14-year Scottish boy died after a bushwalk in Australia’s remote northwest, as a heatwave brought temperatures as high as 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit) and prompted fire warnings in four states.

The boy collapsed after becoming dehydrated on a walk with his father in the Cape Range National Park, close to the Pilbara iron-ore mining region in Western Australia state, according to an e-mailed statement from police spokeswoman Ros Weatherall. He later died in Exmouth Hospital, according to the statement.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said there was an “extreme” risk of fire in the area today due to gusty winds and temperatures forecast to hit 44 degrees Celsius. Alerts of extreme fire risk were also issued across South Australia state, while lower-grade warnings were put out for New South Wales and Victoria states, where the country’s second-largest city Melbourne is forecast to see a high temperature of 39 degrees Celsius.

Residents of a swathe of northern and western Victoria were banned from lighting barbecues or campfires and advised against driving through vegetation to avoid sparking fires.

Australia’s hot, dry climate makes bushfires a major risk in the southern summer months. The worst fires in the country’s history, the so-called Black Saturday blazes, killed 173 people as they swept through rural Victoria on Feb. 7, 2009.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Fickling in Sydney at dfickling@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net

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