More than 60 fires are burning in the Australian state of New South Wales. The authorities decided to introduce a total ban on lighting fires and to close dozens of schools. The fire situation is not improved by the persistent heat wave and gusty winds.
Spring is slowly coming to Australia. Unfortunately, the south-eastern regions of the country are already struggling with a heat wave. High temperatures increase the risk of bushfires and remind us of the tragedy that occurred at the turn of 2019 and 2020. Due to the danger, Sydney authorities on Tuesday introduced a total ban on lighting fires and closing schools. This is the first such decision in almost three years, reports Reuters.
An unusual phenomenon
The decision was dictated by the strengthening weather trend called El Niño. This phenomenon brings higher temperatures to parts of the country. Meteorologists expect the current heatwave to last until at least Wednesday, September 20. Thermometers may show values up to 16 degrees Celsius higher than the average for this month. As much as 34 degrees Celsius is forecast in Sydney on Tuesday.
– What is unusual about this heat at this time is its long-lasting nature. In September we often experience some hot days. But the fact that we have had so many hot days in a row, seven or eight in New South Wales and Victoria, is quite unusual, said Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) meteorologist Miriam Bradbury.
Fire warnings are in effect in many parts of New South Wales. There are also quite strong winds, which further increase the risk of fire. Residents have been asked to minimize lighting fires in their homes.
The danger is already there
On Tuesday, New South Wales firefighters still had to fight 61 fires. A dozen or so of them are not yet under control. Classes are not being held at 21 educational institutions in the state. Due to the difficult conditions, the fire risk level has been raised to “catastrophic”.
“When a fire risk assessment exceeds agreed limits, in this case extreme or higher, we take action to ensure that the safety of the school community is not compromised,” explained state official Murat Dizdar.
Main photo source: Reuters