Severe fire danger for NSW as Sunday’s heatwave turns windy this afternoon



The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) says there is a “very high to severe fire danger forecast” across the state today as hot, gusty winds exacerbate dry conditions.

Total fire bans are in place across nine regions: The Far North Coast, North Coast, Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney, North Western, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Central Ranges, New England and Northern Slopes.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has forecast a top of 39 degrees Celsius today in Sydney’s CBD, with winds from the north and north-west reaching 45 kilometres an hour before shifting south to south-easterly in the late afternoon.

The BOM’s Helen Kirkup said the cool southerly change expected from about 3:00pm today would bring its own set of complications.

“The southerly change will come through late Sunday — it could come through as a very strong change so anyone on the beaches and on boats would want to keep on top of the timing of that,” she said.

“The temperature could drop 10 degrees, and suddenly the wind can be 30 knots from the south and people will get caught out if they’re not aware that it’s happening.”

Ms Kirkup said hot weather records were expected to be broken this weekend.

“We are borderline [breaking] records for November across the Sydney Metropolitan area, places up in the Hunter,” she said.

Hundreds of people flocked to Manly Beach before 8:00am this morning, with Sydney’s temperature already soaring over 30C.

With a high overnight minimum, there was no reprieve from the heatwave on Saturday night.

RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers warned the rapid spread of grass fires could catch people unawares.

“If those fires do start, particularly in those grassland areas, they’ll move really, really quickly,” he said.

“People don’t want to get caught in front of a grassfire.

“They’re different to a bushfire. They burn really hot really quick.”

Beachgoers are encouraged to socially distance today by keeping one towel-length away from people who are not part of their household.

At Manly Beach, in Sydney’s North Shore, the sand was yesterday partitioned to allow people access to the water.



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Debate about confining kids in danger as drones track them on life-risking rides


By ERWIN CHLANDA

There needs to be a government audit of the stakeholder participation and funding in the field of youth care, and a decision needs to be made about the vexed question of young people at risk being confined to a place of safety, even if they don’t like it.

These are issues Councillor Marli Banks (at right) will be taking to tonight’s Town Council forum, which meets behind closed doors, and tomorrow’s fortnightly meeting, part of which is open to the public.

Cr Banks spoke out on these issues also last month, triggering a lively readers’ discussion.

She said today the recent death following the hit-and-run on a motorcycle rider has not calmed the lawlessness of children in stolen cars running wild in the middle of town, endangering dozens of people.

The Alice Springs News put to Cr Banks that the sticking point about the proposed 24 hour drop-in centre appears to be: Should it be an open door facility?

NEWS: If the kids can come and go as they please, how will that stop them from stealing cars and racing them through town?

BANKS: At this point in time I think the community would like to say, if kids don’t have safe place to  go they must stay within the care of a responsible adult. And if that looks like a 24 hour drop-in station then that might be what it is. Government might be saying “we’re doing that already” but we’re saying, hang on, we’re facing a problem. There is a major issue. It can’t be ignored. COVID has shown us that lock-downs can be faced. In a perfect world that should not be necessary. In a perfect world there would be enough at-home support for this issue not to be out of hand.

Cr Banks said measures would depend on NT Government legislation and the council is limited to an advocacy role.

“What is being done to combat the issues is not enough. People have the right to know how their taxpayers’ money is being spent,” she says.

The Mayor and the Deputy Mayor should take this message to the government but there is no consensus in council for this to happen.

“The block won’t let it happen,” says Cr Banks, referring to the conservative majority of one in the council.

BELOW: Edited police drone footage from last week shows a car driven and occupied by suspected thieves, speeding through the CBD, repeatedly on the wrong side of the road and endangering several motorists. The suspect car stops, two people get out and run away from it, continuing to be filmed by the drone until police on the ground close in and arrest the two.

 



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Officer caught on CCTV allegedly assaulting robber tells court he thought his life was in danger


A police officer accused of kicking and stomping on a man after a botched armed robbery in a Melbourne pharmacy has told a court his life was being threatened.

James Vassilopoulos today faced the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, accused by corruption investigators of assaulting Jeamy Olaa in 2016.

Graphic security footage showed Mr Vassilopoulos allegedly punching, kicking and then stomping on Olaa, who came to Australia as a refugee from Sudan.

His barrister Geoffrey Steward read parts of the suspended senior constable’s statement to the court, where he described being threatened.

“I said, ‘Stop fighting mate, just breathe and relax.’ He said, ‘Kill me or I kill you,'” Mr Vassilopoulos said.

James Vassilopoulos, pictured after a court hearing last year, is accused of assault.(AAP: David Crosling)

But the court heard Olaa, who had been doused with capsicum spray, told officers he thought he was dying.

“I’m going to die, I’m going to die, I can’t breathe,” he said, according to the statements.

Police officers had been called to a chemist on High Street in Preston, which Olaa held up with two pairs of scissors.

Olaa, who was in the grips of an acute psychotic episode at the time, has since been convicted of armed robbery.

A man holds a sign over his head inside a chemist
Jeamy Olaa was caught on CCTV trying to throw a sign inside the pharmacy before he was arrested.(ABC News)

Lawyers for Mr Vassilopoulos today told the court that Olaa was highly distressed during the arrest, and that their client had spoken to him “almost reassuringly”.

“You’re okay, you can breathe, you’re not going to die,” the court heard Mr Vassilopoulos said.

Officer saw colleague step on arrested man’s back, court told

The court heard the evidence of Sergeant Tim Kohler, who was called to the scene and helped arrest the man.

He said that Olaa was “incredibly strong” and may have bitten Mr Vassilopoulos.

“He [Olaa] was doing everything he could not to get cuffed,” Sergeant Kohler said.

“From memory I just recall his head going towards [Vassilopoulos].

“There was a lot of conversation afterwards about him being bit.”

Under cross-examination from the accused man’s lawyer, Sergeant Kohler said he saw Mr Vassilopoulos “step” on the man’s back.

“I didn’t see the kick,” Sergeant Kohler said.

But he told the court he remembered telling the other officers that the whole incident was caught on security footage

“I remember actually saying to the guys, ‘It’s all on footage,'” he said.

Later, Olaa told police he was not happy with how he was treated by police.

“They punched me too many times,” he told an officer who conducted his exit interview.



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Extreme fire danger and storms


Australia can expect wild weather next week, with catastrophic fire conditions, dust storms, wind and rain all on the cards.

Western Australia will see extreme to catastrophic fire dangers across its inland parts on Monday.

The same winds that could whip up blazes across grass and shrub lands are also expected to blow dust storms across the plains.

“They’re bad conditions. It’s going to be hot and it’s going to be dusty,” Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Dean Narramore said.

Meanwhile, the state’s southwestern corner will feel a cold front moving through, bringing rain and strong winds.

That same cold front will move east in the following days, with rain and gusty winds likely across the inland parts of Victoria, NSW and Queensland, before moving towards the Northern Territory where thunderstorms could also be part of the picture.

Towards the end of the week, the east coast will be stormy from Sydney all the way to the top end of the NT.

NEW SOUTH WALES AND ACT

NSW and Canberra will see a warm, sunny start to the week but a stormy end. Temperatures will be in the low to mid 30s in the early part of the week, and in the inland parts those temperatures will stay. The coast, though, will cool down towards the end of the week.

QUEENSLAND

Queenslanders can expect a week of storms and rain. It will be hot every day, with the mercury rising to the low to mid 30s.

VICTORIA

A warm and sunny start to the week will give way to a stormy change by midweek. Expect temperatures in the mid 20s to low 30s on Monday and Tuesday, after which it will be a few degrees cooler.

TASMANIA

Tasmania will have a warm and sunny start to the week, with wetter and colder conditions coming from Wednesday and onwards. The early days will see temperatures in the mid 20s to low 30s, and high teens to low 20s towards the end of the week.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

WA will see a wild Monday with strong winds, hot air and dangerous fire risks. By midweek, those conditions will ease. Those early days will see temperatures in the high 30s to low 40s, which will cool down towards the mid 20s to low 30s by the end of the week.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The start of the week, especially Tuesday, will be hot and windy. Temperatures could spike to the low 40s in the beginning of the week, only to cool down to the mid 20s to low 30s from the middle of the week.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

The NT will cop severe heatwave conditions at the start of the week, especially in the northern parts. Storms will increase later. Temperatures will remain in the 30s throughout the week.



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California braces for more fire danger from winds


LOS ANGELES (AP) — California prepared for another round of dangerous fire weather Tuesday even as crews fought a pair of fast-moving blazes in the south that critically injured two firefighters and left more than 100,000 under evacuation orders.

Some of the fiercest winds of the fire season drove fires up and down the state Sunday night and Monday before easing but they were expected to resume overnight and continue into Tuesday morning, although not to the earlier extremes, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasts called for Santa Ana winds up to 50 to 80 mph (80.4 to 128.7 kph) at times over much of Southern California, with some of the strongest gusts howling through Orange County, where two blazes sped through brushy hills near major urban centers.

A fire that broke out around dawn Monday prompted evacuation orders for thousands of homes in the area of Irvine, while a few miles away another blaze did the same in the Yorba Linda area. More than 100,000 people were told to flee the fast-moving flames.

One home was reported damaged.

Two firefighters, one 26 and the other 31 years old, were critically injured while battling the larger blaze near Irvine, according to the county’s Fire Authority, which didn’t provide details on how the injuries occurred. They each suffered second- and third-degree burns over large portions of their bodies and were intubated at a hospital, officials said.

Pat McGrath, 78, of Irvine, went to a shelter after a stranger pounded on her door Monday as she made breakfast. The stranger told her about the evacuation orders.

“I just panicked. I started crying,” McGrath, who has no family on the West Coast, told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m cold, I’m hungry, I’m stressed and I don’t know what to do.”

Southern California Edison reported to the state’s Public Utilities Commission that is was investigating whether its equipment might have sparked the blaze. The utility said a wire that lashed a telecommunications line to a supporting cable may have struck a 12,000-volt SCE conducting line above it.

SCE was among utilities that cut power to customers to prevent equipment from being knocked down or fouled by debris in the winds and sparking wildfires.

SCE cut power to about 38,000 homes and businesses, although it restored some power by Monday night.

The winds were so strong that firefighters had to ground their aircraft for much of the day in Irvine, though they got back up by late Monday afternoon and continued their work into the night.

In Northern California, the easing of winds allowed Pacific Gas & Electric to begin restoring power after the largest of five safety shutoffs this year.

At its peak, PG&E blacked out about 345,000 customers — an estimated 1 million people — in 34 counties. PG&E said it had restored power to more than 150,000 customers by Monday evening with electricity to be back on at the other homes and buildings by Tuesday night after crews conduct air and ground inspections to make repairs and ensure it’s safe.

A dozen reports of damage had been received, PG&E said.

Nearly two dozen wildfires were reported in Northern California Sunday night and Monday but all were rapidly contained without serious damage.

However, the fire threat was far from over in many parts of PG&E’s vast service area. A red-flag warning of extreme fire danger was in effect into Tuesday morning in the Santa Cruz Mountains and some coastal and valley areas, with warnings extending into Tuesday evening for some higher elevations in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Continuing “bone-dry” humidity could dry out vegetation, which can contribute to “catastrophic” fires, PG&E meteorology chief Scott Strenfel said.

“The conditions are very, very unsafe,” said Mark Quinlan, the utility’s incident commander.

However, once the winds ease, the weather should remain calm through the weekend, Quinlan said.

After this event, no offshore high-wind events are forecasted for the next five days, but no rain is in sight either, Strenfel said.

Scientists have said climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable. October and November are traditionally the worst months for fires, but already this year 8,600 wildfires in the state have scorched a record 6,400 square miles (16,600 square kilometers) and destroyed about 9,200 homes, businesses and other buildings. There have been 31 deaths.

___

Rodriguez reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writer Amy Taxin in Orange County, California, contributed to this report.



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Danger backs Cats’ fresh AFL flag bid


Patrick Dangerfield has vowed Geelong will regroup from their devastating grand final defeat and come back stronger for a shot at next year’s AFL premiership.

The Cats fielded the fifth-oldest team in league history in Saturday night’s 31-point defeat to Richmond and will lose at least one decorated player – Gary Ablett – to retirement.

Tall defenders Harry Taylor and Lachie Henderson, who had the big jobs on Tigers forwards Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch, could yet follow Ablett into the sunset.

Only four players in the Cats’ grand final team – Jack Henry, Gryan Miers, Brandan Parfitt and Sam Simpson – were under the age of 23, while 10 were 29 or older.

Geelong have had only one draft pick inside the top 15 during Chris Scott’s reign as coach, but boast three first-round selections this year, including 11 and 13.

Some of the picks may be used at the trade table.

The Cats are likely to be bolstered by the inclusion of in-demand key forward Jeremy Cameron (GWS) next season and are also in the mix for classy midfielder Shaun Higgins (North Melbourne).

Restricted free agent Cameron, the Giants’ nine-time leading goal kicker, would form a dangerous partnership in attack with Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins.

The additions would help keep the Cats in the hunt next year as they chase their first flag since 2011.

“We are down but not out,” Dangerfield said.

“We will regroup. The strength of us this year has been to stick together and ride the highs and the lows.

“While it is tough and the competition is now over, we will come back bigger, better and stronger.”

Geelong’s grand final appearance came after four preliminary final losses in the previous seven years, and at the end of a tough campaign in which they endured more than 100 days in interstate hubs.

“It’s been a long, long time away from home and it was going to plan (in the first half), but you just have to make sure you finish the job,” Cats captain Joel Selwood said.

“It’s a step forward (to make a grand final).

“We had a lot of good players play well throughout the year and it’s an outstanding effort to be here.”

In his post-grand-final press conference, Geelong coach Scott refused to discuss the possible impact of high-profile forward Cameron’s arrival ahead of what looms as a busy few weeks of player movement across the competition.

Free agency begins on October 30, while the trade period runs from November 4-12.





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Danger reflects on bittersweet AFL GF


It’s taken a long time for Patrick Dangerfield to appear in an AFL grand final.

After 13 seasons and 268 games, the Geelong star finally graced a premiership decider against Richmond at the Gabba on Saturday.

Sadly for the 30-year-old, his big day ended sourly with the Tigers claiming a 31-point win over the Cats for their third flag in four years.

“It’s why you play the game,” Dangerfield said.

“It’s the greatest day and the most devastating all in one.”

Much of the talk in the build-up to the match had been on the heavyweight battle between Dangerfield and Richmond’s Dustin Martin.

While Dangerfield landed some early blows, including his 300th AFL goal in a second quarter where the Cats raced to a 22-point lead at one stage, it was Martin who claimed a knockout win.

A four-goal display to lead the Tigers’ second-half comeback secured Martin’s status as the greatest grand final player in AFL history with a record third Norm Smith Medal.

“He was incredible. He’s a champion of our game and he was dominant,” Dangerfield said.

“That’s what the great players do and they perform when the stakes are at their highest and he’s done that so consistently over the last few years.”

While the pain of falling at the final hurdle is still raw for both Dangerfield and his teammates, he’s confident the wait for his second grand final appearance will not be anywhere near as long as it was for his first.

“We’re bitterly disappointed, but we had a great run, we just couldn’t quite execute when it mattered most,” he said.

“Whilst we’re incredibly disappointed, Richmond were fantastic.

“We’ll learn a lot from it. We’re down, not out. We’ll regroup.”





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Dusty or Danger – who is more important to their side?


Superstar duo Dustin Martin and Patrick Dangerfield loom large ahead of Saturday night’s historic Grand Final between Richmond and Geelong at the Gabba.

Martin is one of just four players in VFL/AFL history to have won two Norm Smith Medals (2017 and 2019) and shapes as the game-breaker in the Tigers’ quest for a third flag in four years.

After four losing Preliminary Finals, Dangerfield will get his chance to play on the game’s biggest stage for the first time with the Cats out to win a first premiership since 2011.

But which Brownlow Medallist is more important to their side?

Tim Watson believes Martin is more pivotal to Richmond’s chances because of one key statistic.

“Dusty during this finals series has been involved in 40 per cent of the Tigers’ scores – that is extraordinary,” Watson told SEN Breakfast.

“Based on the statistic that I read out before, I think Dusty is more important to Richmond right now than what Danger would be to Geelong.”

Dangerfield has spent more time forward during the finals, but how will he be deployed in Saturday night’s decider against the reigning premiers?

“He’s great, he’s got great power … but he doesn’t always have the finesse around his field kicking out of the centre, and there was some great vision (Fox Footy’s Ultimate Preview) about how that led to a turnover and Richmond taking the ball from one end of the ground to the other to score,” Watson said.

“I think that was a great underline of why he is probably better suited to playing in the forward line.”

1967 was the last time Richmond and Geelong met in a Grand Final.







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‘Imminent Danger’ From Cameron Peak Fire Prompts Evacuations



Extreme fire behavior was expected on October 16 from the Cameron Peak Fire near Estes Park, Colorado, as dry, windy conditions fuelled the blaze, forcing evacuations and road closures. Estimated to have burned 173,536 acres since August 13, the blaze prompted authorities on October 16 to order mandatory evacuations for parts of Larimer County, north of Denver. “Residents and business occupants should evacuate the area immediately and as quickly as possible due to immediate and imminent danger,” authorities said. “Do not delay leaving to gather belongings or make efforts to protect your home or business.” Huge smoke from the fire can be seen in this footage taken in Estes Park. Credit: @4kr4h via Storyful



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WARNING: Reef fin fish closures, danger of ooshie lures



UNTIL midnight on Sunday, it is illegal to catch all species of coral reef fin fish during the first of two annual closures.

Inshore Fishing Mackay’s Jason Kidd explained the closure coincided with the full moon and the fin fish spawning season.

“Fishers caught doing the wrong thing … risk on-the-spot fines of $533 for recreational fishers or $1067 for commercial fishers, with a maximum penalty in excess of $130,000,” Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol District Manager Tony Loader said.

“Coral reef fin fish include cods and groupers, emperors, parrotfishes, sweetlips, wrasses, coral trout, fusiliers, surgeonfishes, tropical snappers and sea perches.”

Then from November 1 through to January 31, it will be prohibited to catch barramundi on Queensland’s east coast, including for catch and release, as they undergo their spawning season.

Anglers can use the Qld Fishing 2.0 app to help with species identification.

Read more: New ‘improved’ fishing app uses artificial intelligence

In the interests of protecting our fish for the future, Mr Kidd also said the recent viral craze of using ooshies as lures was potentially dangerous.

“If we have bits of ooshies pulled off the hook or eaten, they could go and damage the fish whereas all of our soft plastic lures and all of the lure designers have had to make their materials safe for the fish to eat,” he said.

More Mackay fishing stories:

WATCH OUT: Fishing reforms you need to know about

Using large tidal changes to your advantage

‘Aggressive American’ pest fish netted in Mackay

Mackay fishing: How to choose the right bait

Mr Kidd said safe-to-use bioluminescent or glow in the dark lures had already been on the market for more than a decade.

With features like speckles that imitated real-life squid, he said the lures were effective for attracting “red fish” in waters deeper than 10m or for fishing at night.

“Any of those glow lures work really well in the deeper waters where the natural light doesn’t penetrate.

“For people who go out to the reef, when you get down into that 20 to 30m, it’s complete darkness.”

“(If) I’m going to use the (lures) at night – just before I throw them out, we throw a torch at them; it charges them up and they’ll glow hard.”

Mr Kidd recommended lures from any of the more reputable brands.

So there you have it, ditch the ooshies and get back to basics.

But before you head out, check out this weekend’s weather forecasts for Mackay.

 

Friday: Mostly sunny. Light winds becoming south-easterly 20 to 25 km/h in the morning then becoming light in the evening. Minimum of 28C, maximum of 28C. UV index predicted to reach 11 (extreme).

Saturday: Partly cloudy. Light winds becoming easterly 15 to 20 km/h in the middle of the day then becoming light in the evening. Minimum of 19C, maximum of 28C. UV index predicted to reach 11 (extreme).

Sunday: Sunny. Light winds becoming north-easterly 15 to 20 km/h during the day then becoming light during the evening. Minimum of 19C, maximum of 29C. UV index predicted to reach 11 (extreme).

 

And your BOM coastal waters forecasts for Mackay from Bowen to St Lawrence:

Friday:

Winds: East to south-easterly 15 to 20 knots, turning east to north-easterly inshore south of Sarina in the afternoon and early evening.

Seas: 1-1.5m.

Swell: East to south-easterly below 1m inshore, increasing to 1-1.5m offshore.

Saturday:

Winds: East to south-easterly 15 to 20 knots.

Seas: 1-1.5m, decreasing to 1m during the morning.

Swell: East to south-easterly below 1 metre inshore, increasing to about 1m offshore.

Sunday:

Winds: East to north-easterly 10 to 15 knots becoming north to north-easterly about 10 knots during the evening.

Seas: Below 1m.

Swell: East to south-easterly about 1m offshore.

 

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Finally, the all-important tide times:

Friday: Low of 0.06m at 4.17am, high of 5.67m at 10.14am, low of 0.25m at 4.35pm and high of 5.95m at 10.29pm.

Saturday: Low of -0.01m at 4.57am, high of 5.84m at 10.57am, low of 0.3m at 5.21pm and high of 5.71m at 11.13pm.

Sunday: Low of 0.07m at 5.36am, high of 5.86m at 11.41pm, low of 0.5m at 6.08pm and high of 5.29m at 11.58pm.

 

Happy fishing! And if you manage to reel in an awesome catch, we’d love to see some pictures. Email photos to heidi.petith@news.com.au





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