The Greater Sydney, Great Hunter, and Illawarra Shoalhaven areas are tomorrow expected to enter Catastrophic fire danger conditions, the highest level of bush fire danger, making it the first time Greater Sydney has entered that category since it was introduced in 2009. As the NSW Rural Fire Services bluntly puts it: “Homes are not designed to withstand a fire under these conditions.”
The majority of NSW outside of the predicted Catastrophic areas is forecast for at least Very High fire danger, with large sections of the state expected to experience either Severe or Extreme conditions.
Source: NSW Rural Fire Service.
Today, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian declared a state of emergency at the request of NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, as over 60 fires burn throughout the state.
“Our State has already been hit by some of the most devastating bushfires we have ever seen, with three lives lost and more than 150 structures destroyed,” Berejiklian said. “With catastrophic weather conditions predicted for this week, particularly Tuesday with hot weather and strong winds, I have decided to take the Commissioner’s advice and make this declaration. It will ensure our State is best placed to respond to the predicted fire conditions.”
The state of emergency gives the Rural Fire Service authority to coordinate other government agencies, take control of infrastructure and government resources, order evacuations, and shutdown utilities like power and gas.
Three deaths resulting from the fires have been reported so far.
Those in Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, and Illawarra Shoalhaven are advised to keep an eye on emergency services alerts, regularly check the fire map, to avoid bushfire-prone areas, to have an evacuation plan in order, and to follow instructions to leave when it is safe to do so.
Fire conditions are also expected to worsen throughout the week for Queensland.