Sydney: Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) state on Thursday declared a state of emergency, with bushfire conditions expected to worsen over the coming days as a record-breaking heat wave sweeps across the country.
In effect for the next seven days, the declaration will allow Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons to exercise “extraordinary powers to protect life and property”, Xinhua news agency reported.
This essentially means all the state’s resources will be at the disposal of fire authorities, giving the RFS the ability to block roads, control infrastructure, take possession of property and direct government agencies.
It was the first time a state of emergency has been enacted in NSW since 2013.
So far in this bushfire season, six people have lost their lives and almost 800 homes have been destroyed, along with 1,600 other structures.
With approximately three million hectares of vegetation now burnt, it is feared a severe three-day heatwave from Thursday to Saturday will exacerbate the situation even further.
In the face of what is predicted to be the hottest day ever recorded, with the average maximum temperature across the country in excess of 40.9 degrees celsius, the RFS has forecast extreme fire danger with “the entire perimeter of Sydney” under threat.