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08 Dec 2019 | 11:30 PM UTC

Australia: Severe fire danger ratings issued in New South Wales December 10 /update 14

New South Wales fire service issues severe fire danger ratings for several areas on December 10 as approximately 87 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 severe fire danger ratings for several areas in NSW on Tuesday, December 10, including Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney Region, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, ACT, Southern Ranges, and Central Ranges. The service also issued total fire bans for those areas, as well as for Southern Slopes, Eastern Riverina, Monaro Alpine, and North Western. The NSW RFS updated its smoke advisory at 06:07 (local time) on Monday, December 9, warning that smoke from bush fires is due to continue affecting the Sydney area on Monday through Tuesday. 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 16:30 on Monday, there are 87 fires wildfires burning across NSW. 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 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 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. At least four people have died due to the wildfires that broke out across eastern Australia since early November 2019. 

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.