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28 Nov 2019 | 08:06 PM UTC

Australia: New fire warnings issued for New South Wales November 29 /update 11

New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) warns of further spread of bushfires in the state on November 29; hot and windy conditions forecast through December 1

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Event

Over a hundred bushfires are still ongoing in New South Wales (NSW) state as of Friday, November 29, and conditions are expected to worsen in the coming days. As of 12:30 (local time) on Friday, there are 146 fires burning in NSW and 58 are not contained. Over 1900 personnel have been deployed to contain the blazes according to the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS). Total fire bans are in effect for the Monaro Alpine, Southern Ranges, Central Ranges, North Western, and Southern Slopes fire regions on Friday. Air quality levels in Armidale and Tamworth are at “hazardous” levels while Muswellbrook and Singleton in the upper Hunter region are at “very poor.”

Further spread of the fires are possible in the coming days as hot and windy conditions are forecast for NSW through Sunday, December 1. Officials are warning residents to prepare their properties for possible bushfires and to have a plan if their homes are threatened by a fire. A heightened security presence, road closures, and power outages are to be expected in the vicinity of any wildfire. Officials may issue evacuation orders. Up-to-date information on the fires and warnings can be found on the NSW RFS website here.

Context

Over 1 million hectares (2,471,053 acres) of land have been burned since the wildfires broke out in NSW on October 9. Authorities have indicated that the fires are due to high temperatures and drought. At least six people have died and 530 homes have been destroyed as a result of the bushfires. 

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.

Advice

Individuals 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.