Catastrophic fire warning on the cards

THE fire situation across NSW could jump from severe to catastrophic as scorching weather conditions are predicted across the state tomorrow.

With about 90 fires still burning and 22 of them uncontained, NSW Rural Fire Service officials have told Fairfax they’re preparing for a “challenging fire situation”. Officials are today working with the Bureau of Meteorology to determine fire warnings for parts of the state.

Spokeswoman Brydie O’Connor said the Hunter Valley and south of the state could expect severe fire danger conditions, while a large portion of NSW could tip into the extreme end of the scale. 

“There is the possibility of catastrophic fire danger in some coastal areas,” she said. “We’ll be issuing the warnings in consultation with the Bureau of Meteorology and we’re working with them at the moment.”

Meanwhile dry lightning storms on Saturday night played havoc for crews in the southern part of the state, and storms last night worsened the conditions, Ms O’Connor said.

While thankfully no property was damaged, 1000 head of sheep were destroyed by a fire near Wagga Wagga at the weekend.

With temperatures expected to be 40 degrees and above for much of the state tomorrow, strong winds and low humidity would be a challenge for firefighters. “Even though (many of) those fires are contained, tomorrow there is a likelihood they may jump containment lines.

“We want to wrap up as many as we can. We now have more than 90 fires burning across the state.” Ms O’Connor said 24 aircraft and several hundred fire-fighters were working around the clock to maintain control of the fires, in anticipation of tomorrow’s conditions.

She said crews were investigating a number of suspected deliberately list fires, including the Janies Corner fire which burnt out 78 hectares of Booti Booti National Park, near Forster.

However police and RFS investigators were yet to pinpoint the cause.

The illegal use of fireworks over the New Year period is being investigated as the cause of several fires across the state.

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