Containment efforts are ongoing in New South Wales (NSW) state on Thursday, November 14, as over 1200 fire fighters battle multiple wildfires. As of 12:00 (local time) on Thursday, there 59 active fires with one under emergency warning and eight in watch and act; at least 24 are uncontained. Officials reported that fires in Taree, Port Macquarie, Kempsey, Coffs Harbour, and Lithgow have been particularly difficult to control. According to the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS), weather conditions improved on Wednesday, November 13, allowing some progress in containing the blazes. However, official forecasts show that dry conditions will continue in the coming weeks and strong gusts will return to the region during the week of Monday, November 18.
As of Thursday, at least 300 homes have been destroyed or damaged since Friday, November 8. Officials have also confirmed four fatalities. A week-long state of emergency was declared in NSW on Monday, November 11, by state officials due to the bush fires. Further spread of the fires are possible over the coming days and weeks. A heightened security presence, road closures, and power outages are to be expected in the vicinity of any wildfires. Up-to-date information on the fires can be found on the NSW RFS website here.
Over 1 million hectares (2,471,053 acres) of land have been burned since the wildfires broke out in NSW on October 9. Authorities have indicated that the fires are due to high temperatures and drought.
Wildfires are an annual event in Australia between December and February; however, the authorities have been on high alert since September 2015 over unseasonably warm temperatures, prompting scientists to speculate that climate change could be extending and increasing the intensity of the fire season.
Individuals present in New South Wales are advised to keep abreast of warnings and adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities, notably evacuation orders. As high temperatures are expected in the near-term, individuals are also advised to remain hydrated and minimize outdoor activities. Furthermore, individuals should limit outdoor activities until the situation normalizes and those with chronic respiratory illnesses should exercise increased caution; seek medical attention if experiencing breathing difficulties or other health concerns.
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