Wednesday 29 June 2016

State of emergency declared in Sydney as fires close in

Kathy Marks Sydney

Published 21/10/2013 | 05:00

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Lyndon Dunlop stands by his father as they inspect the damage to his grandparent's home of 41 years destroyed by bushfire on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Lyndon Dunlop stands by his father as they inspect the damage to his grandparent's home of 41 years destroyed by bushfire on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: A home destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Jake Daschke salvages his car from his home destroyed by bushfire on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Lyndon Dunlop inspects the remains of of his grandparent's home of 41 years destroyed by bushfire on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: A home destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: A home and car destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Lyndon Dunlop walks in the backyard of of his grandparent's home of 41 years destroyed by bushfire on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: A dog walks in the backyard of a home destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: A home and car destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Tea cups sit on a letterbox at a home destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: A home destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Lyndon Dunlop inspects the remains of of his grandparent's home of 41 years destroyed by bushfire on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: A home destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Melissa White assists her sister Christie Daschke at her home destroyed by bushfire on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: A home destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Melissa White assists her sister Christie Daschke at her home destroyed by bushfire on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and hundreds of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
WINMALEE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 18: The shell of a bicycle sits amongst the remians of a home destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 18, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and dozens of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 12: A home destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 18, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and dozens of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
WINMALEE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 18: A home destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 18, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and dozens of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
WINMALEE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 18: Ornaments are seen at a home destroyed by bushfire on October 18, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia. One man has died and dozens of properties have been destroyed in bushfires that are devastating the Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions of New South Wales. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
A general view of the Sydney CBD shrouded in smoke haze is seen on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Cassie Trotter/Getty Images)
Smoke fills the sky over Sydney CBD as Bushfires Rage Across NSW on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. The brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
A general view of the North Sydney CBD shrouded in smoke haze on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as bushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Cassie Trotter/Getty Images)
A general view of play during the Ryobi Cup cricket match between the South Australian Redbacks and the Western Australia Warriors at Drummoyne Oval on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
A general view of play during the Ryobi Cup cricket match between the South Australian Redbacks and the Western Australia Warriors at Drummoyne Oval on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
A general view of Sydney harbour shrouded in smoke haze on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as bushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
A general view of Sydney harbour shrouded in smoke haze on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as bushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, smoke rises from a fire near Springwood, west of Sydney, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. Nearly a hundred wildfires are burning across Australia's New South Wales state, more than a dozen of which are out of control, as unseasonably hot temperatures and strong winds fanned flames across the parched landscape. (AP Photo/New South Wales Rural Fire Service)
An aerial view of smoke from bushfires in Lithgow, New South Wales, is seen in this still frame taken from a October 17, 2013 video provided by Seven Network Australia. At least seven emergency warnings have been issued for fires burning out of control in New South Wales (NSW) on Thursday, the state's Rural Fire Service (RFS) said. The RFS website added more than 60 bushfires were reported in the Australian state including around 20 that are classified as out of control. REUTERS/SEVEN NETWORK/ via Reuters (AUSTRALIA - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. AUSTRALIA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN AUSTRALIA. SEVEN NETWORK - NO ACCESS AUSTRALIA / .COM.AU INTERNET SITES / ANY INTERNET SITE OF ANY AUSTRALIAN BASED MEDIA ORGANISATIONS OR MOBILE PLATFORMS / AUSTRALIAN NVO CLIENTS / SMH.COM.AU / NEWS.COM.AU. MANDATORY CREDIT TO SEVEN NETWORK. TEMPLATE OUT
A helicopter releases water over bushfires in Lithgow, New South Wales, in this still frame taken from a October 17, 2013 video provided by Seven Network Australia. At least seven emergency warnings have been issued for fires burning out of control in New South Wales (NSW) on Thursday, the state's Rural Fire Service (RFS) said. The RFS website added more than 60 bushfires were reported in the Australian state including around 20 that are classified as out of control. REUTERS/SEVEN NETWORK/ via Reuters (AUSTRALIA - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. AUSTRALIA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN AUSTRALIA. SEVEN NETWORK - NO ACCESS AUSTRALIA / .COM.AU INTERNET SITES / ANY INTERNET SITE OF ANY AUSTRALIAN BASED MEDIA ORGANISATIONS OR MOBILE PLATFORMS / AUSTRALIAN NVO CLIENTS / SMH.COM.AU / NEWS.COM.AU. MANDATORY CREDIT TO SEVEN NETWORK. TEMPLATE OUT
A helicopter flies as smoke from bushfires in Lithgow, New South Wales, is seen in this still frame taken from a October 17, 2013 video provided by Seven Network Australia. At least seven emergency warnings have been issued for fires burning out of control in New South Wales (NSW) on Thursday, the state's Rural Fire Service (RFS) said. The RFS website added more than 60 bushfires were reported in the Australian state including around 20 that are classified as out of control. REUTERS/SEVEN NETWORK/ via Reuters (AUSTRALIA - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. AUSTRALIA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN AUSTRALIA. SEVEN NETWORK - NO ACCESS AUSTRALIA / .COM.AU INTERNET SITES / ANY INTERNET SITE OF ANY AUSTRALIAN BASED MEDIA ORGANISATIONS OR MOBILE PLATFORMS / AUSTRALIAN NVO CLIENTS / SMH.COM.AU / NEWS.COM.AU. MANDATORY CREDIT TO SEVEN NETWORK. TEMPLATE OUT
In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service the remains of a structure are in a crumpled pile after a wildfire destroyed the building, at an unknown location in Australia, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. Nearly a hundred wildfires are burning across Australia's New South Wales state, more than a dozen of which are out of control, as unseasonably hot temperatures and strong winds fanned flames across the parched landscape. (AP Photo/New South Wales Rural Fire Service,)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: A general view of play during the Ryobi Cup cricket match between the South Australian Redbacks and the Western Australia Warriors at Drummoyne Oval on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: A general view of play during the Ryobi Cup cricket match between the South Australian Redbacks and the Western Australia Warriors at Drummoyne Oval on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: A general view of play during the Ryobi Cup cricket match between the South Australian Redbacks and the Western Australia Warriors at Drummoyne Oval on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: A general view of play during the Ryobi Cup cricket match between the South Australian Redbacks and the Western Australia Warriors at Drummoyne Oval on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: A general view of play during the Ryobi Cup cricket match between the South Australian Redbacks and the Western Australia Warriors at Drummoyne Oval on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: A general view of play during the Ryobi Cup cricket match between the South Australian Redbacks and the Western Australia Warriors at Drummoyne Oval on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: (EDITORS NOTE: Image was created with a smartphone.) A general view of the Sydney CBD shrouded in smoke haze is seen on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Cassie Trotter/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: Smoke covers the ANZAC Bridge and surrounding areas as bushfires rage across NSW on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. The brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: Smoke covers the ANZAC Bridge and surrounding areas as bushfires rage across NSW on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. The brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: Smoke covers the ANZAC Bridge and surrounding areas as bushfires rage across NSW on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. The brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: Smoke fills the sky over Sydney CBD as Bushfires Rage Across NSW on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. The brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: Smoke covers the ANZAC Bridge and surrounding areas as bushfires rage across NSW on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. The brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: Smoke fills the sky over Sydney CBD as Bushfires Rage Across NSW on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. The brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: Smoke fills the sky over Sydney CBD as Bushfires Rage Across NSW on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. The brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: Smoke fills the sky over Sydney CBD as Bushfires Rage Across NSW on October 17, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. The brushfires rage in the western Sydney suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

A STATE of emergency was declared in New South Wales yesterday amid warnings that bushfires which have already destroyed nearly 200 homes in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, will intensify in the coming days and threaten outer suburbs of Australia's largest city.

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With dangerously hot and windy weather forecast for the next three days, the Commissioner of the Rural Fire Service, Shane Fitzsimmons, said the state was facing its worst fire conditions since the 1960s. "The reality is, however, these conditions are a whole new ball game," he said yesterday.

While dozens of fires are burning across the state, three large blazes in the Blue Mountains are causing most concern.

If they join up to form a single mammoth fire front – which Mr Fitzsimmons said could "very easily" happen – the entire area, home to 76,000 people, could be in danger, requiring mass evacuations. There are also fears that flames could jump the Nepean River, at the foot of the mountains, and threaten densely populated suburbs of western Sydney, such as Penrith. After three days of milder weather, temperatures are expected to reach 38C in Penrith today, while winds of up to 60mph are forecast for Wednesday.

As residents of the worst-hit towns of Springwood and Winmalee returned to comb through the ruins of their homes, the NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell, announced the state of emergency, which empowers the emergency services to carry out forced evacuations.

More than 2,000 men and women are battling to contain the blazes. On Saturday night, they were joined by the prime minister, Tony Abbott.

As of last night, 69 fires were still burning, 22 of them out of control.

Around the state, the fires – which took hold amid hot, windy weather last Thursday – have already destroyed 208 homes and damaged 122.

The only fatality so far was a 63-year-old man who died of a heart attack on the Central Coast, north of Sydney, while trying to protect his house.

Irish Independent

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