New South Wales declares emergency over wildfires

Temperatures predicted to rise and winds to strengthen in Australia’s most populous state

A helicopter trailing a bucket – used for carrying water for dropping on to bushfires – flies past the sun as it is obscured by smoke in western Sydney yesterday. Photograph: Reuters

A helicopter trailing a bucket – used for carrying water for dropping on to bushfires – flies past the sun as it is obscured by smoke in western Sydney yesterday. Photograph: Reuters

Mon, Oct 21, 2013, 01:00

Australia’s most populous state declared a wildfire emergency as temperatures are predicted to rise and winds strengthen, fanning flames across New South Wales.

State premier Barry O’Farrell appointed the Rural Fire Service commissioner to control and co-ordinate the emergency declaration. “This is not an action taken lightly,” Mr O’Farrell said. “But it’s important the Rural Fire Service and other emergency services have the powers and the resources they need to combat this threat.”

Firefighters battling more than 60 blazes, including about 15 that are uncontained, are braced for renewed wild weather across the state. Australia’s bushfire season has started early after the warmest September on record, and the intensified warnings reflect receding chances of rain to douse flames engulfing swathes of the Blue Mountains region about 80km west of Sydney. – (Bloomberg)