AP News, News, Wildland Firefighting

Australian Open Qualifying Begins Despite Poor Air Quality

Property ravaged by wildfire

Properties at Nerrigundah, Australia, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, are damaged and destroyed after a wildfire ripped through the town on New Year’s Eve. The tiny village of Nerrigundah in New South Wales has been among the hardest hit by Australia’s devastating wildfires, with about two thirds the homes destroyed and a 71-year-old man killed. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Smoke haze and poor air quality caused by wildfires temporarily suspended practice sessions for the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Tuesday, but qualifying began later in the morning.

Tennis Australia said onsite conditions were improving and were being constantly monitored.

Another Firefighter Killed While Battling Australia Wildfires

Organizers said further decisions on match scheduling would be made using onsite data and in close consultation with its medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology, and scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency in Victoria state.

Melbourne started the day with hazardous air pollution as smoke from wildfires in Victoria’s east and in southern New South Wales state drifted through.

The central business district, close to where Melbourne Park is located, recorded overnight hazardous levels of fine particles in the air and the EPA categorized the air quality as “very poor.”

Firefighters in the region spent the night being called out to fire alarms triggered by the smoke haze.

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