Extreme summer ahead: New South Wales’ PM warns of flood, fire in coming months

Orangeville residents defend their property as a bushfire approaches. CREDIT: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SYDNEY, Sep 28, 2020, SMH. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned the state to brace for extreme weather conditions over coming months, with floods potentially posing the biggest threat, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Ms Berejiklian said heavy rains from a looming La Nina and the onset of the cyclone season in south-west Queensland were causing her greatest concern for the summer ahead.

“Ironically, while we do have to be cautious about the fire season … I’m also told to brace ourselves for floods [and] extreme conditions over the next few months,” she said.

She added that she remained aware of the risk of long grasses and large swaths of the state that did not burn in last summer’s horrific bushfire season.

The Premier gave the weather warning at the launch of a new $19 million Fire and Rescue training facility in western Sydney, which will be used to train state and Commonwealth agencies in fire management, counter-terrorism, chemical spills and train, aviation and road crash rescues.

“As 2019 and 2020 have taught us, we have to expect the unexpected, and that’s why days like today are important,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Fire and Rescue are the first responders, they are the ones that take all the triple-zero calls.”

During last year’s bushfire season Fire and Rescue received 100,000 triple zero calls, and about 16,000 on the weekend of February 8 and 9, during the NSW floods.

Last year Fire and Rescue responded to almost 7500 storm, flood and natural disaster incidents.

Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said he received his first bushfire briefing for the season last week, in which he was briefed on 10 fires across the state, four of which were uncontained.

“This weekend will be warm, and so the training firefighters have received here will probably be put to good use over the course of this weekend,” he said.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has recorded 230 bush and grass fires in the past week.

While some have been relatively small, RFS spokesman Ben Shepherd said it was a reminder that the landscape was starting to dry out.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott and Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter will launch a new state-of-the-art emergency services training facility.

“We saw a number of escaped private burns over the weekend and the first watch and act category fire near Windsor Downs,” he said.

“This long weekend we are going to start to see temperatures bump into the early to mid-30s, with strengthening wind as well.

“That will tend to push up fire dangers across the state. People should be aware of that, especially if using fire outdoors.”

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