Sydney declares emergency as 'catastrophic' bush fires loom

12 Novembre, 2019, 16:08 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Firefighters waterbomb homes in Old Bar New South Wales

A state of emergency was declared on Monday and residents in the Sydney area were warned of "catastrophic" fire danger as Australia girded for a fresh wave of deadly bushfires that have ravaged the east of the country.

Three people have already died, thousands have been displaced and 150 homes have been destroyed by dozens of out-of-control blazes in the north of the state.

For those stuck in the fire area, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services advises wearing long sleeves and pants and making sure exits are clear.

"It is too late to leave on most of these fires and sheltering is now your only option as fire approaches", Fitzsimmons said.

In the past few months, an area of roughly 11,000 sq km - larger than Jamaica or Kosovo - has been scorched, according to the New South Wales fire service.

"The reality is conditions will simply continue to get worse and deteriorate in the coming hours and particularly into this afternoon".

The Australian fire season, which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer, has started early after an unusually warm and dry winter.

Fire conditions are also expected to worsen throughout the week for Queensland.

"All that fuel is just ready to burn", said Al Jazeera's Andrew Thomas in Sydney.

Up to 15 fires reached emergency alert level, as powerful winds and higher temperatures picked up throughout the day.

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A catastrophic fire danger rating - the highest possible - is current for the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter and Illawarra-Shoalhaven regions.

The ratings were based on forecasts of temperature, moisture and humidity, wind speed and also a landscape dryness measure, Claire Yeo from the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had been in contact with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison today, who said he was very grateful for the additional support. "Nature will throw some curveballs today, no doubt".

It comes after an already devastating weekend of bushfires in New South Wales. Hundreds of schools were closed and residents urged to evacuate as hot, dry and windy weather posed an extreme fire danger to Australia's most populous state.

Seeking to avoid deaths, firefighters have been given broad powers under a seven-day state of emergency to control government resources, force evacuations, close roads and shut down utilities.

Meanwhile to the south of the city in the Sutherland Shire, nearly 9000 homes in Engadine and Menai are also in high-risk areas, according to the Risk Frontiers firm.

In Queensland, further north, the danger was not quite as great, with the threat level pegged at "severe", two levels below the "catastrophic" conditions in NSW.

The cool change will move across Queensland on Wednesday, which will cause elevated fire dangers as the heat moves up the east coast, she said.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, leader of the rural National Party in the governing coalition, drew ire for suggesting now was not the time to talk about the climate.

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