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'Catastrophic' Warning an Aussie First as Fires Rage

Fire officials portend 'most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2019 10:50 AM CST
Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters conduct property protection as a bushfire burns close to homes in Woodford, NSW, on Friday.   (Dan Himbrechts/AAP Image via AP)

(Newser) – Australia is on fire, and it's getting worse. Over the weekend, it was reported that New South Wales, the country's most populous state, was dealing with dozens of wildfires that killed at least three people and destroyed more than 150 homes. On Monday, 60 fires were still ablaze, with the Guardian noting 40 of them were "out of control," and local fire chiefs warned of a "catastrophic" Tuesday, bringing "the most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen." A severe drought in the region has exacerbated conditions, and temps hovering around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as powerful winds, are expected to make the fires "impossible to fight," the paper reports.

NSW fire officials have issued a "catastrophic" fire warning across Sydney and surrounding areas, the first time that designation has been used there since a new fire-warnings system was instituted after 2009's devastating Black Saturday bushfires. To make matters more problematic, the head of NSW Rural Fire Services says "we have got the worst of our fire season still ahead of us," noting summer is right around the corner. Queensland has its own issues, with nearly 50 fires burning, and while the BBC notes the situation there isn't as bad as in NSW at the moment, officials predict things there could deteriorate by the end of the week. States of emergency have been declared in both NSW and Queensland, and thousands of people have been evacuated. There are also fires in South Australia and Western Australia. (Read more Australia stories.)

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