Firefighters battled to save properties overnight in regional NSW amid the state’s greatest bushfire risk since the deadly Black Summer bushfires.
Out-of-control blazes are burning at a number of locations in the state’s central-west, which triggered emergencies and warnings on Monday night.
It comes as a heatwave this week has sparked the broadest area of high fire danger since the 2020 bushfires.
NSW Rural Fire Service Inspector Ben Shepherd said it was the greatest fire risk since Black Summer.
On Monday night residents were told to seek shelter as dozens of firefighters were trying to contain a 600ha blaze threatening properties at Tambaroora, along Alpha and Hill End roads.
Water-bombing aircraft and heavy plant machinery were called in to help contain the fire which had started in rugged and largely inaccessible terrain.
As of 3am Tuesday, conditions at Tambaroora had eased and the warning was downgraded to “watch and act”.
Another blaze was burning through 450 hectares and sparked an emergency warning for Toongi, south of Dubbo.
An uncontrolled 400ha grass fire was also raging in the Burrendong area, 15km southeast of Wellington.
With around 40 fires burning across the state, the fire service warned the situation could worsen as the heat fans the flames.
Hotter than summer
Sydney’s dry and scorching day turned into a sizzling night on Monday, as the mercury blasted to 37.9C at 4.44pm.
Even at 7pm the temperature remained above 35C in some parts but was expected to ease overnight to about 21C before spiking again on Tuesday.
During the day, Sydney sweltered through its hottest day in two years, as temperatures topped 40C in some parts — past the city’s summer high of 30.6C — and sent thousands streaming for the beaches.
It was also the hottest day since Australia Day 2021 to the west of the city at Penrith and Badgerys Creek where temperatures climbed past 40C.
A reprieve from high temperatures is not expected until Thursday, as fire authorities brace for days of scorching heat and warn of a high fire danger risk for much of the state.
“It is not unusual to experience heatwaves during early autumn as the weather transitions from the warmer months of summer to the cold of winter,” the Bureau of Meteorology said.
“The bureau’s long-range forecast for autumn indicates it is likely to be drier and warmer than usual for much of Australia.”
Meanwhile, thunderstorms — possibly severe, with damaging winds — may impact north-east NSW on Tuesday and Wednesday.
NSW Police deputy commissioner Peter Thurtell urged people to refrain from taking unnecessary risks in the extreme conditions.
“During extremely hot weather, we often see an increase in tragic incidents including drownings, falls from windows or balconies, and kids, pets or vulnerable people suffering distress or injury from being left in a hot car,” he said.
Nearly 30 people drowned in NSW waterways during summer and emergency services are pleading for people to think before they swim.
“At the beach, always swim between the flags and listen to the directions and advice of surf lifesavers – please do not take a risk and swim at an unpatrolled area,” Mr Thurtell said.
Elsewhere among the nation’s capital cities, Brisbane and Perth are forecast to reach a maximum of 33C, while Darwin should approach 34C.
Milder conditions are expected in Canberra (25C) and Melbourne (22C), while Adelaide and Hobart are forecast to be cooler at 21C and 19C respectively.