Geely and Daimler AG Will Set up a Factory and Make smart in China

   Investment Guides
   Prominent Educators
   Preparatory Schools
   Colleges and universities
   News photo
   Other Links
   Shopping Focus
HangZhou News>>News>>
Sydney faces 'catastrophic' bushfire threat
en.hangzhou.com.cn  2019/11/12 15:24  China Daily

New South Wales declares a state of emergency as 1 million hectares engulfed

The government of New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, on Monday declared a state of emergency as the Sydney region braced for unprecedented fire conditions.

More than 350 schools and colleges will be closed on Tuesday in Sydney and surrounding regions.

Since Friday, fires have destroyed nearly 1 million hectares of bush and agricultural land in the north of the state. More than 200 homes have been lost, three people killed, dozens injured, and millions of dollars of infrastructure and farm machinery destroyed.

It is a similar story in the northern state of Queensland as dozens of unseasonal fires burn out of control. On Saturday, the Queensland government declared a "state of fire emergency" across many parts of the state as firefighters battled multiple fires in "tinderbox-like conditions".

The declaration, which came into effect on Saturday, bans the lighting of all types of outdoor fires across 42 local government areas spread throughout the southeast, southwest, central, north and far north of Queensland.

The focus has now shifted to New South Wales' capital Sydney and surrounding regions where the state's Rural Fire Service, or RFS, warned on Monday that the Sydney region will face "catastrophic" fire conditions on Tuesday.

It is the first time the region has been rated at that fire level since new fire danger ratings were introduced in 2009.

The RFS said "lives and homes will be at risk" as high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity combine to create a deadly mix.

More than 1,000 firefighters, water-dousing aircraft and volunteers from New Zealand are involved in the massive operations in both Queensland and New South Wales, or NSW.

Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of the RFS, told the media that not only will Tuesday's weather conditions be worse than those on Friday, "they will be concentrated much further than just the northeastern area of NSW".

He said firefighters in Canada and the United States, where California has recently experienced some of its worst blazes on record, are standing by, ready to fly to Australia should the situation deteriorate.

The Australian Defence Force is also on standby.

Professor Ross Bradstock from the Centre for Environmental Management of Bushfires at the University of Wollongong, south of Sydney, said: "What we are seeing right now is a tragic conjunction of circumstances that reflects decades of encroachment of urban and periurban development along the coast and hinterlands.

"The result is that more and more people and property are being exposed to greater fire risks," he told China Daily.

Bradstock noted that building and development codes in NSW are "very strict" in fire-prone areas. "The current regime has been in place for about 15 years," he said.

"Fires such as these will provide a critical test of the standards that are now imposed. The big problem is that we have inherited a legacy of past development where standards were much looser or nonexistent, leaving a great deal of property exposed to fires.

"We can't ban people from living in these areas, but we may need to reassess our current standards and even consider retrofitting property that is vulnerable."

Bradstock said bushfires will only get worse as "our forests continue to dry due to climate change".

"Sadly, given the weather forecast for the coming week, the crisis may worsen and extend southward into landscapes primed to burn via extreme dryness," he said.

Paul Read, a senior research fellow at the Monash Sustainability Institute at Monash University and co-director of the National Centre for Research in Bushfire and Arson, said: "Seemingly unquenchable fires down the eastern coast of Australia are feeling increasingly unprecedented and reminiscent of some of Australia's worst, described by survivors as 'apocalyptic beasts'."

He said many of the fires have been burning since October, which is early in the fire season, and will get worse as summer gets closer.

"I also think it will expand northward and southward across the whole of the eastern seaboard.

"Sadly, I expect more deaths by dint of sheer size and, despite their best efforts, the stretching of emergency service capabilities. ... We might need help this summer," he said.

Author: Editor:Zhou Xia
© Copyright HangZhou.com.cn , All Rights Reserved. Contact us