Information regarding Tuesday's catastrophic bushfire danger alert for the Greater Hunter

Residents of Greater Hunter (which includes Upper Hunter Shire), Illawarra and Shoalhaven areas, and Greater Sydney are facing an unprecedented level of bushfire danger tomorrow.

A strong cold front is expected to move through NSW with hot, dry and gusty conditions ahead of the front generating very dangerous fire conditions over the ranges, slopes and coast.

Due to the conditions there will be business and school closures.

Scone High School will be closed on Tuesday.

Lake Glenbawn Reflections Holiday Park has also closed.

Scone Race Club's scheduled meeting for Tuesday has been rescheduled for Wednesday.

Upper Hunter Shire Council has released the following statement:

A catastrophic level fire danger has been declared for Greater Sydney, as well as Greater Hunter area tomorrow (Tuesday 12 November 2019).

All Upper Hunter residents are encouraged to review their fire preparation and discuss plans with family, neighbours and work colleagues.

You can keep up to date with the latest information on the bushfires and advice for your region at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au, follow @NSWRFS on Twitter or NSW RFS on Facebook. If you are in a life threatening situation call 000.

Residents are also advised to listen to local radio announcements (and if you have battery-operated radio, that is useful in the event of a power black out).

Upper Hunter Shire Council has today been reviewing our Local Emergency Management Plan.

Some road and other works crews will NOT be operating due to high fire risks, but will be on standby to make staff and equipment available including full water carts, graders and dozers for fire breaks, if required by the Rural Fire Service (RFS).

As usual during total fire bans there will be no slashing or other potentially dangerous activities.

Normal water carting to Murrurrundi is continuing. Work on the Scone to Murrurundi pipeline has been paused for Tuesday.

Council offices and other services including waste collection, will be operating as usual.

Libraries and swimming pools are recommended refuges from forecast high temperatures.

All Council camping grounds are closed including Stewarts Brook and Moonan. Lake Glenbawn Reflections Holiday Park has also closed.

Service NSW Mobile Service Centre has advised their visits scheduled for Murrurrundi tomorrow and Scone on Wednesday have been cancelled.

There are 12 potential evacuation centres in the Upper Hunter Shire and their operators have been notified. If required there will be a public announcement of the appropriate evacuation centres depending on the location and nature of any emergency.

Emergency resource support is controlled by combat agencies and supported by the Local Emergency Operations Controller (LEOCON). If required an Emergency Operations Centre will operate out of Scone Council Chambers.

In the event of a fire emergency, Council will be working very closely with the Rural Fire Service and NSW Police.

NSW Police have issued the following statement:

Residents of the Greater Hunter, Illawarra and Shoalhaven areas, and Greater Sydney are facing an unprecedented level of bushfire danger.

NSW RFS has issued a catastrophic bushfire danger rating - the highest level of bushfire danger.

Homes are not designed to withstand a fire in these conditions, RFS has said.

Any fire that starts and takes hold will threaten lives and homes.

While there are large population centres under catastrophic conditions, there are also large areas of Severe and Extreme fire danger.

This includes areas where we already have dangerous fires burning - and these conditions will be worse than those experienced last week.

A Total Fire Ban is in place for the whole of the state.

A strong cold front is expected to move through NSW on Tuesday, with hot, dry and gusty conditions ahead of the front generating very dangerous fire conditions over the ranges, slopes and coast.

Damaging wind gusts are also possible over parts of the southern ranges, Illawarra, Sydney coastal fringe and Hunter Coastal Fringe. Areas of raised dust are also forecast west of the Great Dividing Range, and there is a change that this system will bring dust to some coastal districts.

What to do:

  • Start taking action now to reduce your risk.
  • Avoid bush fire prone areas. If your home is in a bush fire prone area, the safest option is to not be there.
  • Do not travel through bushland areas.
  • A safer location may be a large town or city, shopping centres or facilities well away from bushland. It may also be a designated 'Neighbourhood Safer Place'.
  • A Neighbourhood Safer Place is designed as a Place of Last Resort in bush fire emergencies only. Please note that travelling to or sheltering at a Neighbourhood Safer Place does not guarantee your safety.
  • Your safest option will always be to leave early.
  • People with special needs, such as the elderly and people with a disability, should always leave before the threat of bush fire.
  • If it is unsafe to leave the area or stay and defend your property, and the path is clear, you should move to your pre-identified Neighbourhood Safer Place, or other safer location, prior to the impact of a bush fire.
  • Be aware that when you are travelling to your Neighbourhood Safer Place there may be heavy smoke and poor visibility.

It is important that you are familiar with the area. Gather at the Neighbourhood Safer Place location and remain there until the bush fire threat has passed. The conditions at the Neighbourhood Safer Place may be uncomfortable and you may be affected by heat, smoke and embers. Water, toilets and food may not be available at the Neighbourhood Safer Place and emergency service personnel may not be present. Neighbourhood Safer Places are not intended for pets and livestock.

For more information about the fires, contact the Bush Fire Information Line - 1800 679 737

Evacuation centres on the Mid North Coast and Northern regions

NSW Police have advised of evacuation centres on the Mid North Coast and Northern regions. For residents in those areas, you can find an evacuation centre nearest you here.

The NSW Police Force keep their Facebook page up to date with evacuation centres that re open.

School closures

Parents have been urged to check the Department of Education's School Safety page to see if their child's school will be closed on Tuesday.

The page is being updated regularly and lists closures for both government and non-government schools.

They have also been asked to keep in contact with their own school via their school's website, Facebook page and SkoolBag app for up-to-the-minute information.

Health warnings

Smoke can cause health problems, particularly for people with pre-existing lung and heart conditions like asthma, emphysema, angina or heart failure.

Avoid outdoor physical activity if it's smoky, particularly if you have a pre-existing condition like asthma.

People with asthma should follow their asthma management plans.

If you have asthma, make sure you keep your reliever medication close to hand.

If your reliever medication has run out or is passed its use-by date, you can buy a new one from the pharmacy without a prescription.

You can reduce exposure to smoke by staying indoors with the doors and windows shut. Air conditioning can help to filter out smoke that gets into your house.

Transport

Motorists should delay all non-essential travel.

Many roads remain closed due to bush fires. Be prepared for conditions to change quickly and roads to close suddenly.

If you need to travel, also make sure you've got water, food, supplies and a full tank of fuel. Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged before you set out.

If you're already travelling when a bush fire starts, follow the directions of emergency services personnel.

Due to fire activity, both man and local roads may close without warning. For the latest information on road closures, check LiveTraffic NSW or call 132 701.

All North Coast Train Services, from Sydney to Casino and Sydney to Grafton and their return trips have been cancelled until Wednesday due to the bush fires. Passengers are advised to delay any non-essential travel to the bush fire-affected areas.

For the latest information on public transport, check Transport NSW or call 131 500.

  • We will keep you updated on more information as it becomes available and monitor conditions in the local area.

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