Lightning, hot winds to escalate fire threat
Today is stipped to be the worst day this week for bushfire conditions, particularly in NSW where lightening and hot winds are forecast.
As more than 1000 firefighters battle 49 blazes across the state, the Rural Fire Service is warning residents to be prepared.
Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said a weather system coming in from South Australia will bring hot easterly winds today.
"We know over the coming days, particularly today we're expecting again widespread very high to severe conditions," Mr Fitzsimmons told ABC TV.
"This time, the indications are (it will be) the southern half of NSW with some of the more widespread, worst conditions. We've got a long way to go yet."
12 total fire bans in place for NSW today due to Very High and Severe fire dangers. Hot and windy conditions are forecast for much of the state ahead of a southerly change later this evening. Dry lightning is forcast for areas in SW NSW with the change. #nswrfs #nswfires pic.twitter.com/WE5VVV9wXe— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) November 20, 2019
To make matters worse, lightening and hot winds are forecast over the coming days.
They won't bring much rain and could see lightning strikes ignite additional fires.
The RFS says southern NSW is at risk with some of the worst conditions with a severe fire danger rating in place for 10 areas including Illawarra/Shoalhaven and the Southern Riverina.
There are 49 bush and grass fires burning across NSW with 25 not yet contained. All fires are at Advice. Firefighters will work overnight to undertake important backburning to protect properties ahead of worsening fire conditions tomorrow. #nswrfs #nswfires pic.twitter.com/AF2iH2NXv1— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) November 20, 2019
"Now is the time to have a discussion with your family and know what you'll do if fire threatens," the Rural Fire Service tweeted.
Most fires are at advice level on Wednesday evening.
However, alerts have been elevated to watch and act for a near-20,000 hectare blaze at Ebor near Armidale, and a bushfire at Myall Creek Road in Bora Ridge, southeast of Casino which has consumed more than 30,000 hectares.
Good news for Queensland as conditions ease
Despite conditions worsening in other parts of the nation, there's some good news for Queensland.
The Sunshine state has escaped the worst of a dangerous heatwave which blistered the southern states with conditions expected to ease today.
Strewth, it's hot! As maximum temps reach 6-12C above average today in #Queensland spare a thought for #Birdsville expected to hit 46C: not a November record – that's 48.5C on 30 Nov, 2006 – but its hottest Nov day since 45.3C on 22 Nov, 2014. See obs at https://t.co/vN7TvqifEZ pic.twitter.com/nadiAnH1ys— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) November 20, 2019
Firefighters confirmed three homes have been lost at Ravensbourne near Toowoomba on the Darling Downs, taking the total number of homes lost in the recent fires to 19.
That fire - known as the Pechey blaze - is one of three infernos expected to cause major headaches for firefighters over the next few days.
The others include a cluster of fires in the Border Ranges region, from Cunninghams Gap to Mount Barney and Mount Lindsay, and one on Moreton Island.
Fire crews have worked around the clock to strengthen containment lines and conditions will ease across the fire zones on Thursday, the weather bureau says.
About 70 fires were burning across the state on Wednesday, with no end in sight to the crisis.
No significant rain is expected until January with the weather bureau warning of a late start to the wet season.