Officials in two Australian states have declared a state of emergency due to the "catastrophic" threat posed by wildfires. Over the weekend, three people were killed as more than 120 fires burned over two million acres of land and destroyed 150 homes in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland.
Officials are worried that rising temperatures, which could reach triple digits, and strong winds, which could gust upwards of 56 mph, might quickly turn a brush fire into a massive, deadly blaze. Authorities are advising residents in Sydney to be ready to evacuate and have warned that 100,000 homes in the city could be at risk.
“If a fire starts and takes hold during catastrophic fire danger conditions, lives and homes will be at risk,” said Shane Fitzsimmons, the Rural Fire Service commissioner, adding, “We are talking about something we haven’t experienced before in Sydney.”
Authorities told residents that if a fire does break out, they may not have the resources to respond quickly to extinguish the flames.
"There are simply not enough fire trucks for every house. If you call for help, you may not get it. Do not expect a firetruck. Do not expect a knock on the door. Do not expect a phone call. Your safest option will always be to leave early."
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