The New South Wales (NSW) State
Department of Environment has triggered a health alert on Thursday, as
Sydneysiders woke up to find thick wildfire smoke blanketing the harbor city.
"If it's smokey and you have a chronic respiratory or heart
condition, it's important to avoid all outdoor physical activities as much as
you can," the Deputy Director of NSW Environmental Health Watch Dr Richard
Broome warned on social media.
Making Sydney's Opera House and harbor Bridge barely visible
this morning, the smoke is stemming from wildfires 400 km north near the
township of Port Macquarie, where 2,500 hectares of bushland has burned for
"A high pressure system to the east that's sitting in the
Tasman Sea, is creating an inversion over the coast line... and the
north-easterly wind has been dragging that smoke under that inversion a very
long distance into areas of Sydney and the South Coast," meteorologist
Jordan Notara, from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, told Xinhua.
"So what we have at the moment is cooler air that is
sitting underneath which is not allowing the smoke to be dispersed into the
higher levels of the atmosphere."
While no deaths or injuries have been reported as a result of
the massive blaze in the mid-north of NSW, it's estimated that around 350
koalas have been lost at the vital wildlife breeding ground.
Speaking with the Australian Associated Press, Port Macquarie
Koala Hospital president Sue Ashton described the situation today as "a
"It's very confronting. We're actually arranging
counselling for our rescuers, because you can imagine finding those sorts of
remains is quite traumatic, particularly when you work so hard to keep them
alive," she said.
With warm, dry conditions continuing across much of Australia's
east coast, the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) said there are currently over
1,000 personnel battling 65 bush and grass fires burning throughout the state.
"Firefighters and aircraft will be working today at many
sites in NSW to strengthen containment lines and slow the spread of fire,"
the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) posted to Twitter.
It's hoped that Sunday's forecast of rain will bring some relief
to their efforts.