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Bushfires rage across NSW and Queensland as hazardous smoke blankets Sydney Bushfires rage across NSW and Queensland as hazardous smoke blankets Sydney
(about 1 hour later)
Blaze on NSW south coast continues to burn as Queensland braces for extreme heat and severe fire dangerBlaze on NSW south coast continues to burn as Queensland braces for extreme heat and severe fire danger
About 150 bushfires were burning across New South Wales and Queensland on Tuesday morning, as the sunshine state prepared for extreme heat and severe fire danger and Sydney struggled with continuing poor air quality.About 150 bushfires were burning across New South Wales and Queensland on Tuesday morning, as the sunshine state prepared for extreme heat and severe fire danger and Sydney struggled with continuing poor air quality.
There were 119 bush and grass fires in NSW on Tuesday morning, 48 of them uncontained.There were 119 bush and grass fires in NSW on Tuesday morning, 48 of them uncontained.
No total fire bans were in place for Tuesday, but fire danger was “very high” along the NSW coast and in the northern parts of the state.No total fire bans were in place for Tuesday, but fire danger was “very high” along the NSW coast and in the northern parts of the state.
A fire burning in the Blue Mountains near Katoomba was downgraded from a watch and act level to an advice alert on Monday night.A fire burning in the Blue Mountains near Katoomba was downgraded from a watch and act level to an advice alert on Monday night.
Firefighters had previously warned residents the 600-hectare fire was spreading towards built-up areas.Firefighters had previously warned residents the 600-hectare fire was spreading towards built-up areas.
On the NSW south coast the Currowan fire decreased overnight after gusty winds pushed it through more than 16,000 hectares, but it continued to burn in a north-easterly direction towards Turmeil and Bawley Point. The Rural Fire Service said properties near Batemans Bay on the NSW south coast had been lost due to an out-of-control bushfire.
It remained at a watch and act level. Residents of South Durras area were told to go to Batemans Bay if it was safe, and those in the Turmeil area to go to Ulladulla. Firefighters on Monday rallied to save homes on the south coast as fierce winds fanned a fast-moving fire which quadrupled in size in less than two days. The out-of-control fire at Currowan was burning across almost 25,000 hectares and being pushed east towards coastal communities but tempered overnight as gusty north-easterly winds moderated.
NSW police are concerned about the number of people deliberately lighting fires. The RFS commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, on Tuesday confirmed that properties west of Kioloa had been damaged and destroyed amid the blazes. Authorities would assess the extent of damage throughout the day.
The Currowan fire remained at “watch and act” alert level and evacuation centres set up at Ulladulla and Batemans Bay.
“We do have some early indications of property being lost or impacted to the west of the area of Kioloa, largely where the fire crossed the Clyde River there yesterday,” Fitzsimmons told the Seven Network. “Unfortunately there’s still a lot of very active fire edge on this fire, which is why it’s remaining at watch-and-act alert level, and conditions could certainly change if we see the winds influence fire behaviour on that again.”
NSW police on Monday expressed concerns about the number of people deliberately lighting fires amid increased risk.
Lake Illawarra Inspector Brian Pedersen said it was distressing to see people ignoring the warnings of emergency services. Police spoke to three 12-year-old boys after two fires were deliberately lit in the Lake Illawarra region over the weekend.
“We are urging the whole community to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour,” Pedersen said in a statement.
Two million hectares of NSW land have been burnt since July in more than 7,000 fires, with authorities dubbing it the “most challenging bushfire season ever”.Two million hectares of NSW land have been burnt since July in more than 7,000 fires, with authorities dubbing it the “most challenging bushfire season ever”.
Six people have died and 673 homes have been destroyed.Six people have died and 673 homes have been destroyed.
In Sydney “very heavy smoke” from fires near Warragamba dam brought the air quality to hazardous levels on Monday evening, with the state government saying Tuesday would also be “poor due to particles”. In Sydney on Tuesday morning heavy smoke was again hanging over the city, with three large blazes on the city’s fringe. The haze blanketing the city was being blown from large bushfires in the Blue Mountains, near Warragamba Dam and in the Hawkesbury area.
A temperature inversion forming over the city on Monday night could trap smoke in the Sydney basin on Tuesday, the NSW Rural Fire Service said. Fitzsimmons said a “temperature inversion” had trapped the smoke in the Sydney basin, prompting a “poor” air quality rating. Parts of south-west Sydney had also been deemed “hazardous”.
“Smoke levels are expected to be similar if not worse than experienced over recent mornings,” the RFS said. “All those fires and some a little further afield are all impacting on the smoke inundation around the Sydney basin,” Fitzsimmons said. “There’s a general westerly pattern to a lot of these winds that’s going to continue to bring smoke right across the Sydney basin, and if we get another inversion effect like we saw this morning, some of that will get trapped.”
NSW Health said children, older adults and people with heart and lung conditions were the most susceptible to smoke and air pollution.NSW Health said children, older adults and people with heart and lung conditions were the most susceptible to smoke and air pollution.
“If you have asthma or a lung condition, reduce outdoor activities if smoke levels are high and if shortness of breath or coughing develops, take your reliever medicine or seek medical advice,” it said.“If you have asthma or a lung condition, reduce outdoor activities if smoke levels are high and if shortness of breath or coughing develops, take your reliever medicine or seek medical advice,” it said.
A strong wind warning was in place for the Hunter, Illawarra and far south coast, and smoke haze was forecast for much of the state, in particular the Sydney, Hunter, mid north coast, and northern rivers regions.A strong wind warning was in place for the Hunter, Illawarra and far south coast, and smoke haze was forecast for much of the state, in particular the Sydney, Hunter, mid north coast, and northern rivers regions.
Heavy smoke haze was also affecting the Bruce Highway at Colosseum in Queensland.Heavy smoke haze was also affecting the Bruce Highway at Colosseum in Queensland.
The fire danger rating was classed as severe in parts of southern Queensland, with dry and windy conditions making conditions hazardous for firefighters.The fire danger rating was classed as severe in parts of southern Queensland, with dry and windy conditions making conditions hazardous for firefighters.
Temperatures were expected to reach 40C in areas such as the Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim by the end of the week.Temperatures were expected to reach 40C in areas such as the Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim by the end of the week.
The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast could experience temperatures of 35C, while in Brisbane it could reach 37C on Friday.The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast could experience temperatures of 35C, while in Brisbane it could reach 37C on Friday.
Australian Associated Press contributed to this reportAustralian Associated Press contributed to this report