Weather ‘A very difficult afternoon’: Raging fires and winds hit NSW as other states face wild weekend

‘A very difficult afternoon’: Raging fires and winds hit NSW as other states face wild weekend

Two bushfires are burning in the NSW Hunter Region,with locals near Weston and Campvale being urged to seek shelter. Photo: Channel 9
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Much of Australia is bracing for wild weather ahead of the weekend.

A NSW bushfire has been upgraded to an emergency level after it burnt more than 1300 hectares of bushland, threatening homes and forcing a primary school to shut.

“It’s going to be a very, very difficult afternoon,” Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told the ABC.

A total fire ban was issued for the Greater Hunter region on Friday morning as the weather bureau issued warnings of wind gusts of up to 90km/h.

Dozens of properties were impacted early and more than 200 firefighters and multiple aerial support water bombing aircraft were deployed across the Lemon Tree Passage peninsula.

“The fire is burning very aggressively and moving very quickly,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.

NSW Health said the state had developed a “hazardous” air quality on Friday after a 500-kilometre dust storm that blanketed Sydney on Thursday.

It has urged residents with any health or lung problems to be “cautious” for the rest of Friday.

Sydney “may still see dust haze linger over the next couple of days”, Bureau of Meteorology severe weather manager Simon Louis told News Corp.

“It should continue to reduce in intensity as it goes.”

NSW bushfires impacting Salt Ash

The main bushfire front in northern NSW is impacting the suburb of Salt Ash, north of Newcastle, as the blaze at Campvale moves towards Rookes Road.

Locals are being urged to heed warnings from the NSW Rural Fire Service as strong winds continue, fanning the blaze in the area and posing an imminent risk to properties.

They said the fire activity had increased on the northern side of the fire ground, while the southern front remains uncontained.

Salt Ash Public School has been forced to close as a result.

People in the affected areas have been sent emergency text messages.

The Salt Ash fire has threatened homes and destroyed two sheds. Photo: ABC

“They are getting gusts of more than 50kph already, so that is emergency, and our concern is that fire will continue to escalate in intensity,” NSW RFS Deputy Commission Rob Rogers said.

“If people are concerned, go outside and talk to the firefighters and they will give you good advice.”

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning on Friday, cautioning people in NSW’s southeast to prepare for damaging winds, stretching from the Victorian border up to the Hunter region.

Gusts of more than 90km/h are expected, and possible blizzards in the alpine areas.

Victoria braces for more extreme weather, rain and snow

In Melbourne, strong winds and heavy rain lashed the state overnight, with the Bureau expecting flooding to occur at the Yarra, Bunyip, Dandenong and Latrobe catchments on Friday and Saturday.

The city received 6 millimetres of rain in the CBD over 12 hours on Thursday and 35 millimetres of rain in the south-eastern suburbs.

Wind gusts reached a peak of 127km/h at Wilsons Promontory, south east of Melbourne, on Friday morning and an apartment complex in Beaumaris was evacuated after a tree fell on its roof.

The Bureau later issued a severe weather warning on Friday for damaging winds for south-eastern parts of Melbourne.

It says peak gusts could reach up to 100km/h with averages of 60 km/h.

A cattle export ship transporting 4327 cows to the Middle East was detained along Victoria’s southwest coast after wildly rocking on Friday.

The MV Jawan, which was headed for Oman in the Middle East, left Portland on Thursday before the pilot turned around the vessel and returned to the departure point.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority detained the vessel and will conduct an investigation, the Port of Portland said in a statement.

More storms expected for South Australia

The bureau has warned of potentially catastrophic weather events for South Australia next week.

It said the state could experience a repeat of Wednesday’s wild weather, when about 40,000 homes were left without power and about 100,000 properties were affected in Adelaide after the SA Power Network buckled under an intense low pressure system.

It expects three similar low-pressure systems to approach Adelaide in the middle of next week.

Bushfires torch parts of Western Australia

On Friday morning, firefighters were deployed to the Fraser Range and rural region Yannarie to combat two bushfires, Emergency WA reported.

It also issued an alert about a fire in the city of Armadale, where firefighters are responding.

On Thursday total fire bans were declared for Coolgardie, Dundas, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Laverton, Leonora, Menzies, Ngaanyatjarraku, Sandstone and Wiluna.

-with agencies