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16 Dec 2019 | 09:50 AM UTC

Australia: New fire warnings issued for New South Wales (NSW) December 16 /update 16

New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) issues fire warning ahead of severe heatwave December 16; heightened security presence and transportation disruptions reported

environment
health
transportation
AUS

Event

On Monday, December 16, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) have issued a watch and act warning for the Kerry Ridge fire, burning in Wollemi National Park, and Putty and Coricudgy state forests. Containment efforts are ongoing and at least 2000 fire fighters have been deployed across the state. In the evening, 120 active fires were still recorded across NSW.

Further spread of the fires is possible over the coming days and weeks as the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (ABM) warned that extremely high temperatures are forecast in the southeast from Tuesday, December 17, through at least Sunday, December 22. Temperatures are expected to reach above 40°C (104°F) throughout the week.

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. 

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.