1. A heatwave has sprung across New South Wales. It is the hottest Spring in over a century.
2. Temperatures on Thursday October 17 peaked over 35 degrees celcius (95F), with winds of over 88km/hr (55 miles an hour!)
A 25 floor building in Sydney caught alight and was fanned by strong winds down Goulburn Street.
3. This has wreaked havoc in Western Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Southern Highlands and areas around Newcastle. This is where over 25% of Australia’s ENTIRE POPULATION resides.
4. Over 30 houses have been destroyed in Springwood, with reports of more houses lost in Winmalee, Port Stephens, Williamtown and Balmoral.
5. And over 40 cars were destroyed in a car park after a discarded cigarette butt sparked a blaze in Sydney Olympic Park.
6. Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has added:
”This is as bad as it gets. You’re talking people losing everything they own. You’re talking key community infrastructure being destroyed by fire today. You’re talking massive dislocation to arterial roads and transport corridors.
“We haven’t even taken an assessment yet of the utilities that have been damaged or destroyed. There’s talk of water treatment centres, there’s talk of power-line infrastructure.”
This means that even those living away from the danger of fire in the middle of the Sydney Metropolitan Area may also be affected by the fire through contaminated water.
Traffic in Sydney was gridlocked on the M4 Westbound, M2 Westbound, and M5 Westbound. The Hume Motorway is closed near Mittagong. Bells Line of Road is also closed to the Blue Mountains, meaning traffic has more than doubled its usual capacity on the Great Western Highway during the afternoon peak.