‘Catastrophic’ fire danger forecast for Hunter Valley

A state of emergency has been declared in parts of Australia following the outbreak of wildfires, with the Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney and Illawarra Shoalhaven areas on the highest alert level.

Image: Kelly-ann Oosterbeek (Facebook)

According to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, conditions are expected to worsen tomorrow (12 November), with the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra/Shoalhaven areas current on the highest state of alert.

The regions have been issued with the maximum level of fire warning: catastrophic. This is the first time that authorities in the state have issued an alert of this level since the new fire warnings were implemented a decade ago.

The warning means that lives and homes will be at risk. According to the latest reports, the fires have already claimed three lives and destroyed more than 150 homes. The bushfires, which are believed to have reached emergency levels last Friday (8 November), have already scorched over one million hectares of forest and farmland.

A state of emergency has been declared for the next seven days in the east coast state of New South Wales. It is believed 20 firefighters have been harmed fighting the blaze, while doctors have treated over 100 people for fire-related injuries.

Over 60 separate fires are reported to be burning across New South Wales with inhabitants advised to “avoid bushfire prone areas”. Authorities have advised people in affected regions to start taking action.

“Everybody has to be on alert no matter where you are and everybody has to assume the worst and we cannot allow complacency to creep in,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the media earlier today.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the military may be called upon to support around 1,300 firefighters currently working across the states of New South Wales and Queensland.

Angus Barnes, executive officer for the New South Wales Wine Industry association, told the Sydney Morning Herald that wineries and wine growers in the region were “very concerned about the fire risk in the Hunter Valley…so much so that the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association has postponed its AGM on Tuesday”.

The Hunter Valley wine region is currently experiencing its fourth consecutive year of drought, according to 9news.com.

According to a Hunter Valley climate change snapshot report published by the New South Wales government, temperatures in the region are expected to rise by 0.7°C on average in the near future (2020-2039.)

the drinks business has contacted Wine Australia for comment.

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