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Australia 'Explosion of fire' forced firefighters to flee in Sydney's south-west

21:16  05 december  2019
21:16  05 december  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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Video provided by Sky News Australia

Firefighters were forced to run from an "explosion of fire" in Sydney's south-west on Thursday night, as the bushfire crisis again tightened its grip over the state.

At the peak of the crisis, seven fires around NSW were classified as burning at emergency warning level on Thursday, from Tenterfield in the north of the state to the Shoalhaven on the South Coast.

In the early hours of Friday morning, the last of the fires burning at emergency warning level were downgraded to watch-and-act level, but residents were told to remain vigilant. Those blazes included the Little L Complex fire in the Yengo National Park, and the Gospers Mountain fire.

'Prepare to leave': Bushfire blazing towards Toowoomba

  'Prepare to leave': Bushfire blazing towards Toowoomba A bushfire is threatening homes in a Toowoomba suburb north of the CBD, with firefighters warning conditions could worsen.Residents at Birnam, a suburb nine kilometres north of the Toowoomba CBD, were told to prepare to flee their homes if flames came any closer.

The Green Wattle Creek fire, which had been threatening properties in south-western Sydney on Thursday evening, was downgraded just before 11.30pm on Thursday, while the Currowan fire, near Batemans Bay, and the Three Mile fire were also downgraded to watch-and-act level early on Friday.

'Explosion' of fire

a sunset over a city: Firefighters overwhelmed by flames at a bushfire in Orangeville, west of Campbelltown.© Nick Moir Firefighters overwhelmed by flames at a bushfire in Orangeville, west of Campbelltown. Incredible scenes emerged from the Green Wattle Creek fire, which exploded out of the bush and roared up to engulf towering trees within seconds on Thursday evening.

Sydney Morning Herald photographer Nick Moir, who was at the scene, said the fire advanced so quickly everyone was forced to "run from its path".

He said a lone fire truck held at the scene as long as possible before the ferocity of the flames forced the firefighters to retreat.

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  Cullacabardee fire downgraded after threatening homes in Perth Aboriginal community Authorities downgrade a warning for a bushfire that came close to homes in the small Aboriginal community of Cullacabardee in Perth's north-east.An emergency warning was declared this evening after a fire began in scrubland near the community, about 22 kilometres north-east of Perth's CBD.

Three firefighters were flown to hospital from the Green Wattle Creek fire with minor burns.

a yellow sunset over a fire: A firefighter battles an ember attack as a bushfire impacts a property in Mangrove Mountain.© Wolter Peeters A firefighter battles an ember attack as a bushfire impacts a property in Mangrove Mountain. Firefighters also shared footage of the moment they were forced to flee, saying it revealed just how quickly a bushfire can spread.

Good evening. Just an example of how quickly bushfires hit. 48 station Mortdale and 90 Menai in the thick of it. Stay safe crew.

Posted by Fire and Rescue NSW Station 90 Menai on Thursday, 5 December 2019

Homes and buildings were reportedly destroyed on the South Coast, the Hunter Valley and the fringes of Sydney, although the Rural Fire Service had no further details on the extent of the destruction.

Suburbs surrounding Warragamba Dam were threatened when the Green Wattle Creek fire finally jumped Lake Burragorang, having threatened to do so all week.

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An RFS spokesperson said the flames were right at the doorstep of Orangeville at one point.

"Crews are working on containment options and to slow the fire where they can," he said. Two hundred and seventy firefighters were still battling at that fire front on Thursday night.

Almost 3000 Rural Fire Service personnel were in the field during the day, and as of 10.30pm they were battling 127 blazes amid “very hot, very dry and very windy” conditions.

“We are seeing a lot of areas where fire is becoming more active under these very strong winds,” said RFS spokesman Greg Allan. “There will be no relief, not in the immediate future.”

Holiday towns prepare

a fire in the dark: Firefighters overwhelmed by flames at a bushfire in Orangeville, west of Campbelltown.© Nick Moir Firefighters overwhelmed by flames at a bushfire in Orangeville, west of Campbelltown. Holiday destinations that should have been preparing for an influx of Christmas holiday makers have spent the week preparing for the fires, among them South Durras and north to Bawley Point, halfway between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay.

Bawley Point resident Jon Cleary was putting out spot fires on his property as the blaze edged on Willinga Lake near his home.

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"You can start to hear it ... You get that freight train noise."

Mr Cleary, who lived in Duffy during the 2003 Canberra fires, was alone defending his property from the blaze at Bawley Point.

In North Batemans Bay, Natalie Hunter had also stayed to defend her home on Thursday afternoon.

“Ash is falling, so we are watching for embers ... [The village of] Nelligan has been told if you're not going to fight, you need to evacuate,” she said.

“It just keeps getting closer,” she said, adding she had watered down the gutters and placed buckets and bins full of water at the top of her driveway to safeguard her property.

Close by, Penni Boudet had spent the week with neighbour Lucy Thompson evacuating horses and livestock to safer ground.

She knew of at least one friend in Nelligen who had stayed to defend a 40-acre property, only for it to be destroyed on Thursday.

“We’ve been listening to the firies scanner, plus using Facebook to stay up to date. We haven’t heard from them, I’m assuming they may still be stuck there,” Ms Boudet said.

"We live on the southern side of the bay, so we are all fine. But we've been moving people's horses and animals, relocating them to other properties available. We've been working in a convoy getting horses out."

Firefighters enter day 10 of fight

a sunset over a fire: A lone firetruck held ground as long as possible, before the explosion of fire forced it back.© Nick Moir A lone firetruck held ground as long as possible, before the explosion of fire forced it back. Near Queanbeyan, conditions reached emergency warning levels as the North Black Range/Palerang fire took hold.

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RFS District Officer Darren Marks was directing 170 crew members fighting the 27,000-hectare fire on Thursday afternoon and said they were "doing their best to manage fatigue" as they entered day 10 of the fight.

"We knew an emergency warning level was a risk and we were prepared for it. And we were hoping it would not happen."

Mr Marks said the fires were the worst he could recall seeing.

"We are not expecting much of an improvement. The weekend does look a little bit easier but only a little, and then it looks as though conditions will be worsening again next week."

Queanbeyan-Palerang Mayor Tim Overall said the memory was still fresh from February 2017 when 11 homes were lost to the Carwoola fire in the region.

"The difference is that was a 36-hour fire [that raged], whereas this is now in day 10 and the situation has deteriorated with the warmer weather towards the end of the week."

The loss of homes to fire was reported in areas from the south coast to Wollombi in the Hunter, while flames came within 100 metres of properties in Colo Heights.

At Mangrove Mountain on the Central Coast, three fires burned at emergency level most of the day.

More than 681 homes have been destroyed in NSW since July 1, 572 of which were the result of fires now burning. Almost 5000 homes in the direct path of fires have been saved.

Beaches could be closed

A firefighter is overwhelmed by flames at the Green Wattle Creek fire.© Nick Moir A firefighter is overwhelmed by flames at the Green Wattle Creek fire. While suburban Sydney has avoided fires so far, thick haze and bushfire-orange glow encased the city for yet another day.

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  Death toll after explosion in Slovakia reaches 7; 1 missing A gas explosion in an apartment building in eastern Slovakia killed at least five people and injured more than 40 Friday. Firefighters rescued people trapped in the building, which officials said is still in danger of collapse. Firefighters and the town hall of the city of Presov said one person is still missing.

At least 31 schools will be closed on Friday due to the smoke, along with campuses for The University of Sydney in Camden and Molonglo.

Even beaches could potentially be closed over the weekend "due to poor air quality", Surf Life Saving NSW said on Thursday.

Matches in both the A-League and W-League competitions were at risk of postponement this weekend, while face masks were seen among golf spectators and competitors at the opening round of the Australian Open.

New Zealander and asthmatic golfer Ryan Chisnall even went so far as to borrow a face mask from a spectator, after he left his ventolin at home.

At three terminals in Port Botany, ship loading came to a halt when 100 Maritime Union of Australia members stopped work because of extended exposure to Sydney's poor air quality, the longest and most widespread on record.

At one public school in Sydney's south-west kindergarten children marked off their second week in which they have been unable to leave the classroom for any break, to protect them from the haze.

"Imagine what it is like keeping 19 little ones inside," said one kindergarten teacher Elaine, who did not want her surname published. "We're going a bit stir crazy, teachers and the kids."

On Friday, fire conditions are expected to remain hot, dry and windy, with 10 fire bans in place in Greater Sydney, Far North Coast, North Coast, Greater Hunter, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Southern Ranges, Central Ranges, New England, Northern Slopes and North Western.

A poor air quality alert for Friday has been issued for elevated levels of small particulate pollution – known as PM2.5 – and ozone.

"There is no relief in the next 24 hours, so it is important to remain vigilant," the RFS's Mr Allan said on late Thursday afternoon as the fires reached their peak. "Prepare your property and have the discussion of what you will do if fire hits."

Pictures: Australia's most deadly and destructive bushfires (Lovemoney)

a red fire engine is parked in the grass: Wildfires have ravaged the Australian landscape since time immemorial, and while these blazes can be a natural part of the nation's ecology, they often result in devastating loss of life and serious injuries, as well as damage to property and swathes of farmland. Worryingly, experts warn that climate change is turning parts of the country into a tinderbox, exacerbating bushfire risk. As multiple infernos rage through the east coast, we take a look back in time at the most catastrophic conflagrations ever.

Major NYE music festival cancelled due to bushfires .
Festival organisers have made the made the "devastating" call after consulting with NSW RFS and determining the fire risk to be too high. "Our beautiful home in Sydney's Central Coast is facing intense and unpredictable fire conditions that are sadly expected to deteriorate in the coming days. We simply cannot put anyone's life at risk," a Facebook post read."We have been working around the clock to explore all possible options to relocate the festival, but it is just not feasible within the time frame."This is a heartbreaking time for our country.

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