Bushfire threat increases in New South Wales and ACT, Australia, due to hot, dry, and windy conditions forecast through at least Jan. 27.

Severity: Warning Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Sydney
  • Canberra
  • Wagga Wagga
  • Newcastle
  • Albury
  • Dubbo
  • Cobar
  • Port Macquarie
  • Orange
  • Coffs Harbour
  • Grafton

This alert began 22 Jan 2020 17:39 GMT and is scheduled to expire 27 Jan 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Bushfire threat
  • Location(s): New South Wales; Australian Capital Territory (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least Jan. 27
  • Impact: Evacuations; ground transport disruptions; possible power outages

The bushfire threat has increased in New South Wales (NSW) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) as a result of hot, dry, and windy conditions forecast through at least Jan. 27. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has issued fire danger warnings for portions of NSW and ACT through at least Jan. 23. Authorities will likely issue new alerts, or update/rescind existing advisories, as weather conditions change over the coming days.

A severe fire danger warning and total fire bans are in effect for ACT, the Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Southern Ranges, Central Ranges, and North Western regions. A very high fire danger warning is in effect for the Far South Coast, Monaro Alpine, Lower Central West Plains, and Southern Slopes regions. Additionally, high fire danger warnings are in effect for the North Coast, New England, Northern Slopes, Upper Central West Plains, and Far Western regions.

More than 80 fires are continuing to burn across NSW as of early Jan. 23. Authorities have not provided an estimated containment date for the fires; further hot and dry conditions and strong winds may hamper firefighting efforts and additional fire growth is likely. Fires could lead to further evacuations, road closures, and general ground travel and business disruptions.

Transport and Utilities

The bushfires continue to cause some road closures and localized transport disruptions in the affected areas. Authorities have closed major roads, including portions of Princes Highway and Monaro Highway to the Victorian border. Additionally, several secondary roads throughout the state also remain closed due to fires. 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 continue to cause 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.


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).

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.

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

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