Australia Declares 2nd State of Emergency in Two Months Over Wildfires (Video)
The Australian state of New South Wales declared its second state of emergency in two months on Thursday as wildfires approach Sydney. There are more than 100 wildfires currently burning in the Australian state.
On Wednesday, Australia broke heat records for the second day in a row. Temperatures were an average maximum of 107.4 degrees Fahrenheit as temperatures in Adelaide soared above 113 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The BBC. More intense temperatures are expected to continue through the end of the week.
Thousands of firefighters are combating the unpredictable fires that are moving closer to residential areas. One megafire is close to the suburbs of Sydney at Campbelltown, a suburb of about 157,000 people.
The state of emergency will last for seven days, which will give authorities expanded powers to combat the fires. A total fire ban is in place until midnight Sunday.
“The firefront has been spreading very quickly and intensely,” NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said at a press conference in Sydney, according to Reuters. “It’s still a very difficult and dangerous set of circumstances.” Two firefighters had been airlifted to the hospital with burns on their face and airways.
During Christmas, many Aussies head to the beach for vacation. But this year’s fires may jeopardize their plans. Coastal Australians are prepped to evacuate and government officials have warned families to have back-up plans in the event the beaches are inaccessible.
Australia has been battling particularly bad bushfires this year. The bushfires have demolished nearly three million acres of land and 680 homes. At least six people have been killed in the fires so far.
"More country has been burned, more homes lost, three times more homes lost than our worst previous fire season in history and the fires are still burning," Greg Mullins, former NSW Fire and Rescue commissioner, said earlier this week, according to CNN. “The driving force behind this is climate change. In our decades of service, we've seen Australia become drier, hotter and extreme weather conditions far more severe."
Smoke from the wildfires got so bad, it set off fire alarms inside office buildings in Sydney and turned glaciers in New Zealand pink earlier this month.