Australia's Sydney given 'catastrophic' wildfire warning

Wednesday, 13 Nov, 2019

Australian authorities have warned that massive bushfires raging in two states will continue to pose a threat, despite "catastrophic" conditions easing.

The current outbreak, which killed three people and destroyed more than 150 homes at the weekend, has been fanned by an unprecedented combination of high temperatures and strong winds.

Mr Fitzsimmons said it was a relief that no-one died on Tuesday given "the enormity of these fire grounds".

At 7pm on Tuesday there were more than 70 fires burning in both NSW and Queensland with up to 20,000 firefighters working to try and stop them spreading.

The fronts bring hot, gusty conditions in front of them, elevating the risk of fires breaking out or spreading.

The RFS said at least 50 homes were damaged or destroyed in blazes around the state yesterday.

The fires are burning in New South Wales, Australia's most populous state and where Sydney is located.

"I have to confess to being hugely relieved this morning that yesterday our awesome volunteers and emergency service personnel withstood the catastrophic conditions and did manage to save life and property", Ms Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

Officials issued 14 emergency warnings in New South Wales (NSW), each covering several communities, by late afternoon as more than half the 78 fires across the state burned uncontrolled amid "catastrophic" conditions.

State Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged people to follow the instructions of the emergency services. The crisis has reignited debate on whether Australia has taken enough action on climate change.

Australia's coal export market is the most lucrative on the planet, valued at £36 billion.

Australia is the world's driest inhabited continent and is considered one of the most vulnerable developed countries to global warming.

NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said the result was "a dividend paid by the great preparation" of the NSW Rural Fire Service.

In the small town of Wauchope, 400 km (250 miles) north of Sydney, residents moved hundreds of livestock to the central showground as fires approached.

Is this linked to climate change?

"What people need now is a little bit of sensitivity, understanding and real assistance".

Nana Glen has been declared an emergency zone as services work to bring the fires under control.

In Queensland, fire danger will increase to severe in the Darling Downs and Granite belt today.

"Those aircraft come down during our fire season at the end of the North Hemisphere fire season", Thompson said.

"The water you can see streaming down the windscreen is our "overrun" sprays, created to prevent the truck from catching fire itself in such situations", it concludes.