Catastrophic fire conditions forecast for the Greater Sydney and Greater Hunter regions on Tuesday have now been extended to include the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.
New South Wales is bracing for what is expected to be one of the worst days for bushfires ever with Premier Gladys Berejiklian today declaring a seven-day state of emergency.
Education officials have announced the closure of more than 360 schools and TAFE campuses across the State as a precaution with that number expected to rise.
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Sydney is expecting temperatures of 37 degrees with strong northwesterly winds ahead of a gusty southerly change.
Similar conditions are expected across the Blue Mountains, Hunter, Central Coast, Illawarra and large parts of the State.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons is urging people in danger zones to consider leaving on Monday night instead of waiting for conditions to deteriorate on Tuesday.
“My advice (is to) not be there – leaving early is the safest option,”Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
“Catastrophic is off the conventional scale. We are talking about indices that go well beyond the old scale of 100.”
Fire officials have warned that if fire breaks out, help may not be at hand, nor may there be any warning message.
“We cannot guarantee a fire truck at every home, we cannot guarantee an aircraft will be overhead every time a fire is impacting on your property, we cannot guarantee that someone will knock on the door and give you a warning that there’s fires nearby and we certainly cannot guarantee that despite our best efforts the technological tools available will deliver you a message in time,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
More than 60 fires continue to burn across New South Wales with around 40 of those uncontained.
Watch and Act alerts are current for 10 of those fires.
The RFS has stressed that even people outside the catastrophic zones face serious danger with fires burning right up and down the State.
A massive 970,000 hectares has been burnt or is burning, more than the last three fire seasons combined.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has implored people to stay safe.
For heaven’s sake stay away from bushland,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“The catastrophic weather conditions mean that things can change very quickly. “You might think you’re OK and a few minutes later you won’t be. Please heed all the messages you receive. Tomorrow is not the day to be complacent.”
Extra resources are being sent to the danger zones with 300 firefighters from Victoria on their way.