A firefighter in the New South Wales Rural Fire Service faces a brushfire, 7 January 2013. SMH

By Stephanie Gardiner
7 January 2013

THE heatwave Sydney has managed to avoid is due to hit on Tuesday, as firefighters prepare for the most dangerous bushfire conditions in years in the city and around the state. […]

Some of the hottest areas in the state at the weekend were in the far west and the southern half of the state, including Hay, which set a record at 48 on Saturday, Ivanhoe, which hit 45, and Wilcannia, which hit 47.6 on Sunday.

A NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman, Ben Shepherd, said the hot and windy weather meant fire ratings in Sydney, the Illawarra, the Shoalhaven, central ranges and parts of the Riverina could be extreme on Tuesday.

Mr Shepherd said those were the highest fire danger ratings the regions had had in years, while almost half the state could have severe fire danger ratings and total fire bans.

''The last few years of wet weather have led to unprecedented growth in some areas in the western parts of the state. That grass has now dried out,'' Mr Shepherd said. ''It's now become very susceptible to fire. It's in areas now that haven't seen fire activity for decades.

''Some people don't believe they're as dangerous as bushfires but grass fires typically move around about three times as fast as a bushfire. They can cut roads and impact on properties with little or no warning.''

RFS volunteers fought about 70 blazes across the state on Sunday. […]

For safety information see www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.

Firefighters face threat levels not seen for years

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