A ‘state of emergency’ and a ‘catastrophic’ fire warning are in place for parts of New South Wales tomorrow.
The declaration was made today by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, following advice from Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons. The warning applies to the Greater Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Shoalhaven areas.
The last time a state of emergency was declared was in October 2013.
It is also the first time a catastrophic level has been made since the existing warning system came into place a decade ago. The danger rating applies to Greater Sydney and Greater Hunter regions and comes in the face of forecast hot temperatures, strong winds and low humidity.
Over Friday and the weekend bushfires in the north of the state claimed the lives of three people and destroyed more than 150 homes. It is estimated that more than 850,000 hectares has been burnt out.
The state of emergency declaration grants emergency powers to the RFS commissioner.
Premier Berejiklian has called on the population to be on high alert, asking them to assume the worst and ‘not allow complacency to creep in’.
“Our state has already been hit by some of the most devastating bushfires we have ever seen,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“With catastrophic weather conditions predicted for this week, particularly Tuesday with hot weather and strong winds, I have decided to take the commissioner’s advice and make this declaration.
“It will ensure our state is best placed to respond to the predicted fire conditions.”
More than half of the current 60 fires burning across the state remain uncontained as the Commissioner warns that the expected conditions pose a risk to lives and homes.
“The fire behaviour is still quite volatile and there are still lots of communities that remain at risk today,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
“Not only are we dealing with an extraordinary amount of fires in north-eastern New South Wales and elsewhere, tomorrow we are facing some horrendous conditions.”
People are being urged to stay away from bushland tomorrow and being asked to follow instructions from the NSW RFS with people in bushfire-risk areas being told to start thinking now about a survival plan and head to larger towns and built-up areas.
A statewide total fire ban has been declared for all of NSW for all of Monday and Tuesday.
With summer just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about getting you and your property prepared for bushfires.