20,000 firefighters brace for ‘catastrophic’ conditions
Thousands are told to find shelter NOW as bushfires approach – while Sydney faces a nervous wait with ‘catastrophic’ conditions set to get WORSE and the PM warns our darkest hours are ahead
Fire danger will increase this afternoon as 37C heat, 90kmh winds and dry air create ‘catastrophic’ conditions around Sydney – as thousands on the mid-north coast are told it is too late to leave their homes.
There are more than 50 blazes in each of New South Wales and Queensland with up to 20,000 firefighters trying stop them spreading as the Army prepares to evacuate residents by helicopter if their lives are in danger.
Sydneysiders woke up to a smoky but calm morning with two infernos – one in the Hawkesbury and another in the Blue Mountains – under control.
But fire bosses warned against complacency and said the fires are likely to spread throughout the day, potentially threatening 100,000 homes around the Harbour City.
Between 1pm and 2.30pm today the number of fires under emergency status in mid-north NSW rapidly increased from five to ten as firefighters brace for ‘really long night’ when winds pick up after dark.
‘The reality is conditions will simply continue to get worse and deteriorate over the coming hours,’ said Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.
Wildfires Hits Sydney as 85 Blazes Intensify
A state of emergency has been declared in New South Wales;
Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter and Illawarra/Shoalhaven face “catastrophic fire danger”;
A number of Sydney suburbs are close to bushland and at risk;
There are 85 fires burning in NSW, 46 of which are not contained;
Emergency warnings have been issued for 13 of them;
A cool change is expected in the early evening, and could see fires change direction;
65 fires are burning in Queensland, with the blaze at Cobraball still uncontrolled;
Hundreds of schools across both states are closed today.
The highest level of “catastrophic fire danger” is forecast for the Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney and Illawarra/Shoalhaven regions, while “extreme fire danger” is the warning for the North Coast, Southern Ranges, Central Ranges, New England, Northern Slopes and North Western areas.
“Severe fire danger” is forecast for the Far North Coast, Far South Coast and Monaro Alpine, while a “very high” risk is forecast for the Upper Central West Plains, Lower Central West Plains and Southern Slopes.