The ongoing bushfires that have devastated Australia closed in on the country’s capital, Canberra, last Friday as it declared its first state of emergency since 2003.
The Rural Fire Service of New South Wales, the state surrounding the capital, warned of severe fire danger for the Australian Capital Territory, with flames and embers projected to spread well inside the region on Saturday. The territory is home to more than 400,000 residents, and nearly half of it is at risk of “ember attack” and flames.
The fires are ramping up amid yet another heat wave in the region, with temperatures topping 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Under these conditions, a number of fires will spread and may threaten properties. Embers may be blown ahead of fires and could start spot fires,” according to the NSW Rural Fire Service.
“If you’re in one of these areas, you may be impacted by fire. If your plan is to leave, leave early and avoid being in these areas during the heat of the day.”
Forecasters also expected some rain in the region this weekend, but not enough to quench the blazes. In fact, the storms could make fire risks worse.
“On Sunday, showers and storms will affect eastern New South Wales and the ACT, but as moisture dissipates, the risk of dry lightning and erratic fire behavior increases, which will be a real concern for major fires in the Canberra region,” said Jonathan How, a meteorologist with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, during a weather bulletin.