Smoke from a bushfire billows over a beach at Carlton,
about 20km east of Hobart last week. New Zealand
firefighters are heading to Tasmania to help their
Australian counterparts battle blazes druing a situation
described as 'looking ominous'. REUTERS/Joanne Giuliani
New Zealand firefighters are heading to Tasmania to help
crews battle wild fires, while New South Wales faces some of
the worst fire conditions in the state's history.
As the temperature began its steady climb this morning there
were 100 fires burning in NSW.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said 21
of these blazes were uncontained.
"Fortunately none of these fires are posing any immediate
threat," he said.
"But clearly, under today's conditions, we are concerned with
those and we will be monitoring them very carefully."
More than 1500 firefighters worked overnight to control the
There it a total fire ban on the entire state with
temperatures in the state's far west predicted to hit 45
degrees Celsius, while in Sydney the mercury is forecast to
climb to 43C - making it the third highest temperature on
A total fire ban in also in place across the Australian
Australia's Bureau of Meteorology has fire weather warnings
in place in parts of New South Wales, ACT, Western Australia,
Victoria, and South Australia. The agency is warning of
"catastrophic fire danger" in Shoalhaven, the Illawarra and
the southern ranges of NSW.
BoM is also advising of extreme fire danger in the Greater
Sydney region, the Manaro Alpine, the Central Ranges, the
Lower Central West Plains, the Southern Slopes, Southern
Riverina and Northern Riverina in New South Wales, the
Gascoyne Coast in Western Australia, Mallee, Wimmera,
Northern Country and North East in Victoria, all of ACT, and
North West Pastoral, North East Pastoral, West Coast,
Flinders, Mid North, Riverland and Murraylands in South
The bureau is forecasting Sydney will reach a high of 43C
today, while Newcastle will hit 40C, and Gosford and
Wollongong will reach 43C.
If Sydney reaches the forecasted high, it will be the city's
third highest ever recorded temperature, after 45.3C in 1939
and 44.2C in 2006.
"We are shaping up for one of the worst fire danger days on
record," Fitzsimmons said this morning.
"You don't get conditions worse than this, we are at the
catastrophic level and clearly in those areas leaving early
is your safest option."
Overnight more than a million people were called by telephone
or by text to reinforce the leave early message.
Fitzsimmons said all precautions had been taken.
"Literally, thousands and thousands of firefighters will be
on standby today, the aircraft availability will be up around
100 and they will all be at the ready to deal with any new
outbreak of fire," he said.
Meanwhile, a team of New Zealand firefighters will head to
Australia to help Tasmanians battling bush fires caused by
extreme heat in the island state.
A formal request was received last night to help the
firefighting efforts and 12 Kiwi firemen will leave Auckland
tomorrow for Australia, a National Rural Fire Authority
NSW Salvation Army director of emergency services Norm Archer
said the organisation had mobilised its resources overnight
and had 87 teams on standby across the state.
"The next few days are looking ominous," he said in a
"Many communities may need support should fires occur and we
are poised and ready to provide assistance if the need should
Mr Archer urged people in fire danger areas to follow the
directions provided by authorities about protection from hot
weather and getting out early.
"The Salvation Army would ask people to pay particular
attention to their elderly relatives who are living alone and
those suffering sickness at this time," he said.
"It's important regular contact be maintained as we move
through this difficult period."
Mr Archer said children were also at risk.
"Don't just assume people are OK, check on them and make
contact," he added.
- additional reporting NZ Herald, AAP