Bushfire threat decreases in NSW and ACT, Australia, due to rainfall forecast through at least Jan. 17.

Severity: Warning Alert

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This alert began 13 Jan 2020 15:58 GMT and is scheduled to expire 17 Jan 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Bushfire Threat
  • Locations: New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Australia 
  • Time Frame: Through at least Jan. 17
  • Impact: Evacuations; road closures; transport, utility, and business disruptions

Summary
The New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service has ended the "Tourist Leave Zone" in southern areas along the state's coast, Jan. 14, due to decreased bushfire threat as a result of forecast rainfall for the coming days. Even though more than 160 fires are continuing to burn across the state as of early Jan. 14, officials have determined that it is safe to return to the area. However, conditions can change rapidly in the coming days, resulting in an increased fire threat.

As of Jan. 14, a very high fire danger warning is in effect for the Australian Capital Territory, the Southern Ranges, Northern Slopes, North Western, and the Southern Slopes. A high fire danger warning is in effect for the North Coast, Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney Region, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Far South Coast, Monaro Alpine, Central Ranges, New England, and Eastern Riverina. Authorities will likely issue new alerts and update or rescind existing advisories as conditions change over the coming days. Officials have lifted the total fire ban that had been in place across New South Wales.

Authorities have not provided an estimated containment date for the fires; further hot and dry conditions and strong winds would continue to hamper firefighting efforts and allow for additional fire growth. Fires could lead to further evacuations, closure of secondary and primary roads, and general ground travel and business disruptions.

Transport
The bushfires have caused several transport disruptions throughout NSW, including road closures. As of Jan. 14, road closures include:

  • Paddys Flat Road between Bruxner Highway and Tooloom Creek
  • Gan Gan Road between Eucalyptus Drive and Forest Street
  • Reedy Creek Road from Bylong Valley Way
  • Hartley Vale Road between Darling Causeway and Fields Road
  • Jenolan Caves Road and Edith Road between Duckmaloi Road and Bastard Point Road
  • Tableland Road from Yester Road
  • Wombeyan Caves Road between Old Hume Highway and Taralga Road
  • Teudts Road from Penrose Road
  • Bugong Road, Mount Scanzi Road, Tallowa Dam Road, and Browns Mountain Road
  • Turpentine Road between Princes Highway and Braidwood Road
  • Braidwood Road, Nerriga Road between Albatross Road and Stewarts Crossing Road
  • Bendalong Road from Princes Highway
  • Lake Conjola Entrance Road from Princes Highway
  • Kings Highway
  • Yowani Road at George Bass Drive
  • Araluen Road
  • Cooma Road
  • Peak View Road between Jernagle Road and Countegany Road
  • Wondalga Road, Broadleaf Park Road between Greenhills Road and Wagga Road
  • Courahyra Road between Alfred Street and Batlow Road
  • Jingellic Road between Masons Hill Road and Jingellic Road Junction near Coppabella Creek
  • River Road between Tunnel Road and Jingellic
  • Yarrangobilly Caves Entry Road from Snow Mountains Highway
  • Link Road between Snowy Mountains Highway and Goat Ridge Road
  • Swampy Plains Creek Road, Tooma Road, Snow Ridge Road, Goat Ridge Road, Elliot Way between Alpine Way and Paddys River
  • Alpine Way
  • Kosciuszko Road between Thredbo River and Charlotte Pass
  • Barry Way from Muzzlewood Trail
  • Delegate Road between Monaro Highway and Victorian Border
  • Monaro Highway
  • Imlay Road between Monaro Highway and Princes Highway
  • Edrom Road from Princes Highway
  • Princes Highway between Wonboyn road and Victorian Border

The status of roads could change over the coming hours and days; authorities could close routes within the wildfire complex and evacuate additional communities due to fire activity and the needs of response operations. Traffic disruptions are also likely during re-entry periods after authorities lift evacuation orders. Low visibility from smoke and possible ashfall could contribute to traffic delays and congestion in the region.

Smoke and ashfall from bushfires are causing poor air quality in Canberra and surrounding areas of ACT since at least Jan. 11. Low visibility could trigger flight disruptions at airports in the region, including those serving Canberra (CBR) and Sydney (SYD). Power outages are likely within and near bushfire complexes.

Health
Smoke from fires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees, plants, and possibly building materials. Such smoke can hurt eyes, irritate the respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases. Smoke may also worsen symptoms for people who have pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Advice
Heed all evacuation orders. Seek updated information on road conditions if driving in the affected area; road closures and detours will cause increased congestion and delays. Individuals not under evacuation warnings should consider remaining inside well-ventilated, air-conditioned spaces to reduce exposure to smoke. Collect essential items - including identification and any important legal and travel documents - in a "go-bag" that can be easily accessed. Charge battery-powered devices in case of prolonged power outages.

Resources
New South Wales Rural Fire Service: www.rfs.nsw.gov.au
Bureau of Meteorology: www.bom.gov.au
NSW Emergency Management: www.emergency.nsw.gov.au
ACT Emergency Services Agency: esa.act.gov.au
Live Traffic New South Wales: www.livetraffic.com

Airports
Canberra Airport: www.canberraairport.com.au
Sydney Airport: www.sydneyairport.com.au

Related Advice: Health Effects of Smoke Exposure
Related Advice: Personal safety before and during wildfires.

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