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06 Dec 2019 | 12:06 AM UTC

Australia: Smoke advisory issued in Sydney December 6 /update 13

New South Wales fire service issues heavy smoke advisory for Sydney on December 6 as over 100 wildfires burn across the state; conditions expected to worsen over the coming days

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Event

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) issued a smoke advisory for Sydney on Friday, December 6, as strong winds are blowing hazardous smoke into the city. According to the RFS, 108 fires are currently ongoing across the state and 74 are not contained. Very heavy smoke is expected to remain in Sydney through Friday night (local time) and clear out on the morning of Saturday, December 7. Other areas being affected by smoke include the north coast, Central Coast, Hawkesbury, Wollondilly, Queanbeyan, and Shoalhaven areas. The NSW Ambulance service is reporting an increase in calls related to respiratory conditions and people with asthma are being advised to stay indoors if possible.

As of 16:55 on Friday, there are seven fires at emergency level: Carrai East, Gospers Mountain, Green Wattle Creek, Kerry Ridge, Meads Creek West, Wrights Creek, and Bangala Creek. Earlier on Friday, the Gospers Mountain, Paddock Mountain, and the Little L Complex fires began to overlap in some areas. Warm, dry winds are forecast for parts of northern and eastern NSW over the coming days and may facilitate the spread of the fires.

Further spread of the fires is possible 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 NSW RFS website here.

Context

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.

Advice

Individuals present in New South Wales are advised to keep abreast of warnings 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.