Firefighters will take advantage of a temporary easing of conditions to get critical back-burning and containment work done before temperatures soar later this week.
NSW crews faced after another tough day on Saturday as dozens of fires continued to burn throughout the state, including the massive Gospers Mountain blaze near Sydney’s northwestern outskirts.
NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons conditions were expected to ease over the next 24 hours.
He told the ABC it would allow firefighters “to really get in, consolidate and establish some containment lines” and conduct critical back-burning.
“Because we are expecting a return to another hot day, particularly Tuesday,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.
“We’re expecting to see temperatures climb into the high 30s or early 40s right across parts of NSW.”
At 6am, there are 96 bush and grass fires in NSW, 47 yet to be contained. Crews have worked hard overnight slowing the spread of fire and undertaking back burning operations. This will continue throughout today with more favourable conditions forecast. #nswrfs pic.twitter.com/PfgQPqBCbC
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) December 7, 2019
Sunday’s fire danger will be very high in the central ranges, northwestern, New England, Greater Hunter and northern slopes regions.
The danger will be high in the Greater Sydney, Monaro alpine, far north coast, southern slopes, north coast, ACT, southern ranges and Illawarra/Shoalhaven areas, and low to moderate in the rest of NSW.
A cool change is expected on Sunday after days of hot and dry weather.
“This southerly change means we will see temperatures ease down, however it will still be above average,” said Rosa Hoff from the Bureau of Meteorology.
“It is a relief from the severe heatwave conditions, but it still not business as usual.
“Our fire danger ratings will ease back to very high from severe.”
Fire danger in the southeast corner troubled authorities as Brisbane sweltered in 39C heat, with the mercury hitting 40.7C at Amberley near Ipswich.
Firefighters are pinning their hopes on that cool change for a desperately needed reprieve.
There are more than 40 fires burning across the state. A conservative estimate of 207,000 hectares of land burnt out since the start of the bushfire season is expected to rise, with 22 – possibly rising to 23 – homes lost.
On Saturday night a fire was contained after it caused a shipping container loaded with fireworks to explode and prompted an emergency declaration in southeast Queensland.
The fast-moving blaze in bushland at Bundamba, west of Brisbane, was sparked by a house fire which spread to the shipping container just after 11am, with authorities declaring an emergency situation.
Firefighters could not confirm the home was destroyed, but police said the structure was fully involved and two people were treated on scene for heat stress and smoke inhalation.
The blaze was ultimately contained on Saturday night and downgraded to ‘advice’, with residents now able to return safely home.
Smoke from the fire has added to the haze across the southeast, as a southerly change pushes smoke from the NSW fires into the state.
The southeast corner of the state was shrouded in smoke, with the World Health Quality index showing unhealthy levels of air quality across parts of Queensland.
“We have seen a southerly change move up from NSW and with it bringing more smoke from the NSW fires,” said Ms Hoff.