Statewide Total Fire Ban declared for today, Tuesday 8 January 2013
Catastrophic Fire Danger for Illawarra/Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges.
Emergency Alert telephone warnings have been sent to people in the above areas. This is not an evacuation order.
That's the headline fron the Rural Fire Service website.
The state is said to be facing its worst-ever bushfire conditions, and it certainly has that feel about it.
While temperature is up in the forties celcius, humidity is way down at eleven percent and winds up to 80kph gusting about all over the place. Codnditions cover all the official categories from catastrophic down. Five areas are now designated as catastrophic.
Sydney is currently (at 1pm) 40C so the forecast of 43C could easily be reached in the hottest part of the day which is usually atround 3pm.
We have over a hundred and thirty fires burning, forty uncontained.
The worst hit so far is the southern part of the state, which has fires now threatening properties and people being evacuated. Some have left leaving too late and as they have no way out the RFS is telling them to 'shelter in place'.
Two thousand firefighters are currently fighting the fires, and thousands more are on standby, concentrating on the south. Victorian crews have moved up to the border and will replace our crews if they have to move north.
The Hume Highway is closed because of an out of control fire and other roads such as the Princes Highway are being affected by smoke.
A southerly change is on the way but with it are winds of up to 100kph and that could make the fires even worse, turning them back into so-far untouched areas. The southerly will hit most places after dark, when airborne water bombing is impossible so it will be leave firefighters with no support from the air.
BBC local radio is doing a great job with updates every fifteen minutes, interviews with fire and emergency officers, chats with people in various areas to get up-to-the-minute reports.