Tens of thousands of people have been reportedly evacuated in Victoria and New South Wales as of Monday, December 30, due to extreme heat and high winds brought on by ongoing wildfires. Authorities also stated that columns of fire have generated their own dangerous weather systems. The danger is expected to remain high into the evening (local time), according to media reports. Authorities have advised to remain off roads in East Gippland (Victoria), where fires have intensified. Weather conditions are also expected to deteriorate in New South Wales state over the coming days; firefighters are currently battling 85 fires in the area.
The Country Fire Authority has issued an emergency warning in 11 areas, including Walwa, Mount Alfred, Guys Forest, Burrowye, Cudgewa, Cudgewa North, and Tintaldra in Victoria.
Air Quality Index readings in Sydney are of 51 and 176 in Canberra.
Further spread of the fires is anticipated over the coming days and weeks. A heightened security presence, road closures, and power outages are to be expected in the vicinity of any wildfire. Up-to-date information on the fires can be found on the following website.
Over 3 million hectares (7,413,161 acres) of land have been burned, and at least 829 houses destroyed since the wildfires broke out in NSW on October 9. Authorities have indicated that the fires were due to high temperatures and droughts.
Wildfires are an annual event in Australia between December and February; however, authorities have been on high alert since September 2015 over unseasonably warm temperatures, prompting scientists to speculate that climate change could be extending and increasing the intensity of the fire season.
An AQI reading of 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 moderate, and 101-200+ unhealthy.
Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, avoid strenuous activities or spending time outdoors, particularly during midday, wear loose-fitting clothing, drink plenty of water and avoid dehydrating liquids, such as alcoholic, sugary, or caffeinated drinks, and seek immediate medical attention if exhibiting symptoms of heat stroke, such as nausea, confusion, headache, rapid and strong pulse, and dry skin.