Australian fire fighters deliberately joined up two large fires near the Blue Mountains as part of efforts to control bushfires across New South Wales.
Extensive back-burning operations were being deployed in anticipation of worsening conditions on Wednesday, the New South Wales fire commissioner said.
On Tuesday morning more than 60 blazes were still alight, with 13 uncontained.
The region experienced light rain on Tuesday, but fire fighters say this will not be enough to quench the fires.
New South Wales declared a state of emergency on Sunday, after being caught in some of the region’s worst fires in years.
NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said that the fires at State Mine and Mount Victoria had “been deliberately and tactically joined” to try and prevent them from merging with a third fire at Springwood.
“We are seeing positive results of these very deliberate, very targeted, very decisive strategies being deployed particularly in relation to back-burning operations… particularly in light of [Wednesday’s] weather conditions.”
The emergency fire at State Mine has been downgraded to “watch and act” after some light rain at the fire zone.
However, Shane Fitzsimmons added that “there’s still a way to go” and that fire fighters would be braced for higher temperatures and stronger winds expected on Wednesday.
“We have got now probably 24 hours before we see the worst of the weather starting to develop and build across all these fire ground areas,” he said. The conditions on Wednesday would be “about as bad as it gets”.
A “fairly active storm cell” was heading towards the back end of the Blue Mountains, which could bring on stronger winds and “erratic weather behavior”, he added.
More than 1,500 fire fighters were tackling the blazes on Tuesday.
All schools in the Blue Mountains, and some schools in other affected areas, will be closed on Wednesday.
One man has died – possibly of a heart attack – while trying to protect his home. Hundreds of people have been left homeless by the bushfires.
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