NSW in Australia remains in a state of emergency, with high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity causing treacherous conditions for some 3,000 firefighters battling blazes. A statewide total fire ban remains in place.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on November 13, 2019

“We’ve got the worst of the summer – the worst of the season – still ahead of us as we head into summer,” said NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons after no more lives were lost amid a day of catastrophic fire danger on Tuesday.

“There’s no meaningful reprieve. There’s no rainfall in this change and we’re going to continue to have warm, dry conditions dominating in the days and weeks ahead.”

Three people have died since the fires aided by hot weather, northerly winds and low humidity which raged on Friday with more than 300 homes destroyed in NSW alone.

Queensland, which has 68 fires burning, is expected to face dangerous wind changes on Wednesday.

“The conditions are of concern to us,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, adding that communities were already facing emergency alerts.

NSW remains in a state of emergency, with high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity causing treacherous conditions for some 3,000 firefighters battling fires. A statewide total fire ban remains in place.

There are currently 73 fires burning across NSW, 50 of which are not contained. The fire front in NSW spans 1,000 km (620 miles) and more than A$40 million in estimated insured losses have been claimed, said Insurance Council Australia spokesman Campbell Fuller.

“The current catastrophic fires can be directly linked to a lack of rainfall and resulting extremely low levels of moisture content measured in forests across New South Wales,” said Dr Petr Matous, an academic from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering.

“Most climate projection scenarios predict — with high confidence — further shifts in rainfall patterns across the country, which may lead to even harsher fire seasons in southern and eastern Australia in the future.

“It is devastating to think that the current disasters may be just a trailer of what might be coming in the next decades. Some seasons will be wetter and safer than others depending on oscillating climatic systems such as El Niño, and in some areas, severe droughts might limit future vegetation growth which would decrease the amount of fuel for bushfires.

“The overall trend, however, is likely to be towards more hazards. These climatic changes, accompanied by demographic changes driving increasing numbers of Sydneysiders towards tree-change, will require a new approach to spatial and infrastructure planning in most hazard-prone areas to provide more robust buffer zones between the bush and people’s homes.”

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Bushfires have also broken out in Western Australia with the weather forecast increasing fears of the situation exacerbating.