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23 Dec 2019 | 07:01 AM UTC

Australia: Fire containment efforts continue in New South Wales December 23 /update 19

Fire containment efforts continue as fires destroy at least 100 homes in NSW December 23; heightened security presence and transportation disruptions reported

environment
security
transportation
AUS

Event

Containment efforts are ongoing in New South Wales (NSW) with support of Australian Defence Force (ADF) troops as of Monday, December 23, as over 100 homes have been destroyed across the state since Friday, December 20.

As of 22:00 (local time) 103 active fires, all under advice warning, were reported. According to the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS), weather conditions and humidity level are forecast to improve throughout the week, allowing some progress in containing the blazes. However, official forecasts show that dry conditions and high temperatures are expected to return on Friday, December 27.

Further spread of the fires is anticipated over the coming days and weeks as the extreme weather conditions continue. A heightened security and emergency personnel 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 NSW RFS website here.

Context

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 occurrence 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.

Advice

Individuals present in the affected areas are advised to keep abreast of warnings, anticipate transportation and power disruptions, and adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities, notably evacuation orders. As high temperatures are expected in the near-term, individuals are also advised to remain hydrated and minimize outdoor activities. Furthermore, individuals should limit outdoor activities until the situation normalizes and those with chronic respiratory illnesses should exercise increased caution; seek medical attention if experiencing breathing difficulties or other health concerns.