Australia fires: New South Wales blazes all ‘contained’

All of the bushfires in New South Wales (NSW) are now considered contained, say fire officials in the Australian state.

The NSW Rural Fire Service said it was “great news” after “a very traumatic, exhausting and anxious” time.

The development is thanks in part to heavy rain, which has lashed the state since last weekend.

Record rainfall caused chaos in Sydney, and the weather woes are set to continue, with a category two storm forecast to roll in this weekend.

Flood warnings have been issued for NSW and for southern Queensland as Storm Uesi approaches, bringing winds of up to 130km/h.

The tiny Lord Howe Island, about 600km off the east coast, is lying in Uesi’s path. Residents and tourists on the island have been warned to seek shelter from the “destructive winds”.

‘Suffered so much

“After what’s been a truly devastating fire season for both firefighters and resident, who’ve suffered so much this season, all fires are now contained in New South Wales,” RFS Assistant Commissioner Rob Rogers said on Thursday.

It is the first time in the fire season that containment – meaning firefighters managing to build a perimeter around the fire, so it cannot spread further – has been achieved.

While there was still some fire activity in the south of the state, said the RFS, emergency workers could now “really focus on helping people reboot”.

Australia has always had a fire season, with naturally occurring blazes sparked during the dry summer season, but this year’s season has been unprecedented in the scale and intensity of the fires.

Across the country, fires have killed at least 33 people and destroyed thousands of homes in the past few months.

More than 11 million hectares of land – an area comparable to the size of England – has been affected across all states and territories.

NSW has been the worst-affected state. Two blazes alone – the Currowan and Gospers Mountain fires – each burned about 500,000 hectares.

But both were declared out after rains earlier this week, along with dozens of smaller fires.