Wednesday, 20 November, 2019

Sydney facing 'catastrophic fire danger' amid major wildfires in eastern Australia

Australian firefighters warned they were in Two confirmed dead in Glen Innes bushfires
Patty Aguilar | 10 November, 2019, 23:09

Fox News Flash top headlines for November 9 are here.

But across an area spanning nearly 1,000 kilometres, schools were burnt, at least 150 homes were destroyed, while the authorities were forced to evacuate detention centres and old people's homes.

About 1,000 firefighters are attempting to tackle the blazes in New South Wales, supported by water-bombing aircraft.

"We're simply not going to contain many of those fires before the bad conditions do hit on Tuesday", Mr Clark told ABC.

Eastern Australia's major north-south road, the Pacific Highway, was cut off by fire and smoke about five hours north of Sydney near the township of Johns River, where the body of a 63-year-old woman, Julie Fletcher, was found in her burned out home.

Catastrophic fires have killed three people and razed more than 150 homes since Friday, but cooler weather overnight provided a measure of reprieve for firefighters and residents.

Her daughter-in-law, Chrystal Harwood, said the grandmother will be "greatly missed". "There's fire everywhere. I need the boys here now, '" Harwood said of their final phone call.

"I got a message from her at 9:30 p.m. on Friday night saying she was putting her things in the vehicle and getting ready to go", Diny Khan told a Sydney newspaper, The Daily Telegraph.

"I've never seen the sky so red since 2000", Lean said. "She was incredible. She was such a strong, loving woman".

Early on Saturday, Harwood posted on Facebook about Chaplain's death.

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Firefighters are trying to predict where the existing fires will shift so they can deploy firetrucks and move people out before their lives are threatened.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said it was unprecedented for NSW to "have so many fires" burning at the emergency alert level.

"Where we thought we had koalas, we now think they have been incinerated", Sue Ashton, president of the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, told a local news outlet.

Firefighters found another body Saturday morning in a burned auto near Glenn Innes - a victim of the same fire that killed Chaplain.

According to 9 News, the third body was found in a burnt-out house 40km north of Taree this afternoon.

By Sunday afternoon, about half of the more than 70 fires burning in New South Wales were still not under control, with two burning at an emergency level. On Friday, 17 fires were given that status.

The NSW RFS said based on the latest forecast, there was likely to be "widespread severe and extreme fire danger" that is expected to stretch from the Queensland border to the south coast, and across the Central West in the coming days.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he wanted to assure those in the communities ravaged by fire, or those facing a fire threat in the future, that there was a "high level of co-ordination of response" across the state and Commonwealth governments.

Warmer weather brought by climate change threatens to worsen conditions for koalas, as deforestation has narrowed habitable areas, said James Tremain of the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales.

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