A member of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service burns underbrush to prepare for the most dangerous bushfire threat in 12 years, 6 January 2013. Fifty per cent of households have a member who intends to stay and defend. Mick Tsikas / Sydney Morning Herald

By Nick Ralston and Saffron Howden
6 January 2013

(Sydney Morning Herald) – NSW is facing its most dangerous bushfire threat in 12 years as the state swelters through a record-breaking heatwave and fire officials express concern about the public's preparedness.

Across the country, fire crews were battling more than 100 bushfires on Saturday.

The NSW Rural Fire Service is on high alert with extreme temperatures forecast for Sunday, particularly in the state's south and west.

The bushfire threat will be at its greatest on Tuesday, when the soaring temperatures combine with strong winds to create the perfect conditions for dangerous blazes.

The most serious fires were in Tasmania, where the bushfire that tore through the town of Dunalley and nearby villages on Friday engulfed more than 100 homes, including Dunalley's school and police station.

Late on Saturday afternoon the Tasmanian Fire Service issued an emergency warning for a large bushfire in the state's south-east.

''It is too late to leave. Residents should take shelter now and go to their nearby safer place only if the path is clear. Leaving now is considered extremely dangerous,'' TFS said on its website. [more]

Red alert on bushfire threat

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