Sydney, Australia, Sep 20 (EFE).- Australian authorities raised their guard on Wednesday amid fears that strong winds in some parts of the country’s southeast may fan dozens of bushfires, which have intensified in recent days due to an unusual spring heat wave.
People find shelter at First Fleet Park on a very hot day in Sydney, Australia, 17 September 2023. EFE-EPA/STEVE MARKHAM AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
Forecasts indicate that intense winds, with gusts of up to 110 kilometers per hour (68 miles per hour) will affect the Alpine areas of New South Wales (NSW), on a day in which temperatures in the state’s capital, Sydney, are expected to reach 35 degrees Celsius for the second consecutive day.
On Wednesday, the authorities ordered the closure of several national parks, some in Sydney and others in remote parts of this vast Australian region, whose area is equivalent to that of Spain and Italy put together.
The lighting of open fires in several areas in the region is also banned.
Some 600 firefighters have been deployed to contain the 68 active bushfires, 17 of them uncontrolled, around Sydney and in the rest of New South Wales, the most populated region in Australia and the worst affected by the heat wave that started over the weekend.
“It’s September and we’re already experiencing four days in a row of temperatures above 30C with high winds,” NSW Premier Chris Minns told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.
In other parts of the east coast of the country, including Sunshine Coast, and the southern island of Tasmania, more than a dozen forest fires have also been burning for days, which have already razed large areas of land.
No casualties or material damage has been reported so far.
The bushfires in New South Wales, whose season normally begins in November, have raised fears of a repeat of the Black Summer fires of 2019-2020, which killed 33 people.
Those fires also burned some 24 million hectares in eastern Australia – an area equivalent to almost half of Denmark – and affected some 3 billion animals.
Experts said Tuesday that Australia will see rising temperatures and drier-than-usual weather this year due to El Niño, a natural weather phenomenon caused by currents in the Pacific Ocean which, exacerbated by global warming, could lead to devastating fires. EFE