Far North Coast untouched as NSW fire emergency looms

THE Northern Rivers remains relatively untouched by the growing fire emergency that last night prompted Premier Barry O'Farrell to declare a State of Emergency across NSW.

According to the Rural Fire Service, there are currently 16 fires burning between Port Maqurarie and the Queensland border, none of which is currently considered a threat. There is no fire ban in place for the region today and the fire danger rating for the region is listed as "high" - the third-lowest rating on the Rural Fire Service spectrum.

However, around Greater Sydney, the ABC has warned of a potential "mega-fire" with a front hundreds of kilometres long if large fires at Lithgow, Springwood, and Mt Victoria merge.

The worsening fire around the state capital has raised the spectre of forced evacuations and the potential burning of communities such as Katoomba and Penrith.

The State of Emergency declared by Mr O'Farrell last night allows emergency services personnel to:

  • Order people to evacuate an area or not enter an area;
  • Order power and gas supplies to be shut off;
  • Shore up or pull down buildings; and,
  • Enter premises to facilitate the exercise of these powers.

The State of Emergency means anyone who disobeys one of these orders or obstructs emergency personnel could be charged.

Mr O'Farrell said he made the declaration, which lasts for a month, after being asked to by the Rural Fire Service Commissioner.

"The RFS Commissioner has advised weather conditions over the next few days will deteriorate significantly and that there is potential for a significant and widespread danger to life and property across the State," Mr O'Farrell said in a statement about the declaration.

"This is not an action taken lightly by either the Commissioner, the Minister or myself, but it's important the Rural Fire Service and other emergency services have the powers and the resources they need to combat this threat.

"We are planning for the worst but hoping for the best."

Bureau of Meteorology forecasts for the Northern Rivers predict highs reaching to the low 30s today and potential for showers this morning.

Tomorrow conditions are expected to intensify with highs of up to 35 and winds up to 30km/h. On Wednesday conditions step up even further, with the same winds and highs of up to 37 degrees in parts of the region.

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