Warning Alert | Dec. 30: 2:10 p.m. EST
Responders continue work to contain fires in New South Wales, Australia, Dec. 31. Transport and utility disruptions to persist.
This alert began 30 Dec 2019 19:08 GMT and is scheduled to expire 02 Jan 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: Bushfires
- Location: New South Wales
- Time Frame: Through at least Jan. 1
- Impact: Evacuations; road closures; transport, utility, and business disruptions
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has issued four emergency warnings for bushfires in southeastern New South Wales (NSW), Dec. 31, with more than 100 fires burning across the state. Additionally, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has issued fire weather warnings for high temperatures, strong winds, and low humidity in parts of the state through at least Jan. 1. The BOM has also issued a Severe Weather Warning for the Snowy Mountains and parts of South Coast, Southern Tablelands, South West Slopes, and Australian Capital Territory forecast districts due to potential for damaging winds from an approaching cold front; this system will enhance the fire threat through Jan. 1.
As of Dec. 31, an extreme fire danger warning is in effect for Illawarra/Shoalhaven, the southern Ranges, and Australian Capital Territory. A severe fire danger warning is in effect for Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney Region, Central Ranges, Southern Slopes, Monaro Alpine, and the Far South Coast. Additionally, very high danger warnings have been issued for the North Coast, New England, Northern Slopes, North Western, Lower Central West Plains, and Eastern Riverina. The other forecast regions within the state are under high fire danger warnings.
Across much of southeastern NSW, a total fire ban is in effect through at least Jan. 1. Authorities will likely issue new alerts, or update/rescind existing advisories, as conditions change over the coming days.
As of Dec. 31, emergency warning alerts for four fires are in place in the following parts of NSW.
- Badja Forest Road
- Big Belimba Creek and Bumbo Creek
- Clyde Mountain
- Dunns Road
Authorities have not provided an estimated containment date for the fires; hot and dry conditions and strong winds continue to hamper firefighting efforts, and additional fire growth is likely in the coming days. Fires could lead to further evacuations, closure of secondary and primary roads, and general ground travel and business disruptions.
The bushfires have caused several transport disruptions throughout NSW. The Monaro Highway is closed from Imlay Road to the Victorian border. Princes Highway is also closed from Imlay Road to the Victorian border, as well as from Cobargo Bermagui Road to Blanchards Road. Snowy Mountains Highway is closed between Mogilla Road and Princes Highway. Kings Highway is closed between Narranghi Road and Reid Street. The status of nearby roads could change over the coming hours and days; authorities could close routes within the wildfire complex and evacuated communities due to fire activity and the needs of response operations. Traffic flows could also be disrupted 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. Power outages are possible in places.
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.