On Friday, November 15, the Rural Fire Service (RFS) issued an emergency warning in Hawkesbury, in the outskirts of Sydney (New South Wales), prompting its evacuation, located near Wilberforce. The fast-moving fire is reportedly spreading to Gosper's Mountain. Further emergency warnings prompting residents to seek shelter were issued at around 14:00 (local time) in Ebor and 15:15 in Kempsey. Containment efforts are ongoing and 70 active hotspots were still recorded across the state as of Friday morning.
Dry conditions are forecast to continue in the coming weeks and strong gusts will return to the region during the week starting Monday, November 18. Further spread of the fires is 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 wildfire. 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. A week-long state of emergency was declared in NSW on November 11 as four fatalities were reported. 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, 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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