New South Wales has declared its second state of emergency in two months.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made the announcement on Thursday as temperatures were set to soar above 40C and nearly 100 bushfires were burning throughout the state, with authorities concerned about fires surrounding Sydney.
The state of emergency will last seven days, running past Christmas.
“The biggest concern over the next few days is the unpredictability, with extreme wind conditions, extremely hot temperatures,” Berejiklian told a news conference.
“We have a good sense of where the most concerning areas are, but again, when you have got those turbulent wind conditions, embers and spot fires can occur very unpredictably.”
Australia is experiencing a nationwide heatwave. The country recorded its highest average maximum temperature of 40.9C on Tuesday, and Bureau of Meteorology data shows that record was likely to be exceeded again this week.
Berejiklian urged people to rethink travel plans over the holiday break.
“Can I ask everybody to please assess your travel plan over the next few days and especially over Christmas,” she said.
“We want everybody to be together with their families.
“But please be aware that a state of emergency might mean extra diversions, extra road closures. It might mean that if you do use the roads, you might be delayed or your plans might have to change.”
She’s asked people to research for embarking on travel across the state and be prepared to cancel plans.
Authorities have pushed people to download and use the Fires Near Me NSW App.
So what exactly is a State of Emergency?
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott told reporters it is a decision the government makes to keep the community safe.
The Premier explained further, a State of Emergency gives the Rural Fire Service Commissioner and Emergency Services Personnel more power including ability to decide what happens with the allocation of government resources and to evacuate people from hazardous zones in the declared area.