Smoke haze triggers alarm chaos across Sydney

 

False smoke alarms are being set off across the state, causing mass evacuations across the city and disrupting public transport as Sydney experiences one its worst air quality days this bushfire season.

More than 80 buildings including Customs House in Circular Quay and the Rural Fire Service headquarters at Olympic Park were evacuated when alarms were triggered forcing hundreds of people onto the street.

The haze also set off false alarms at several train stations across Sydney, with Opal gates flung open for passengers.

A Sydney Trains spokesperson said trains are running on time despite the false alarms.

In the harbour, ferry services came to a grinding halt after having to use their foghorns this morning - a rare spectacle that only occurs during incredibly low visibility.

Buses are now replacing F1 Manly ferry services and no replacement buses have been organised yet for other routes.

Firefighters have been backburning and strengthening containment lines around properties to prepare for worsening weather conditions today. Picture Gary Ramage
Firefighters have been backburning and strengthening containment lines around properties to prepare for worsening weather conditions today. Picture Gary Ramage

Warnings are in place across NSW as the state braces for a horror day of fires with extreme heat and gusty winds set to lash firegrounds.

Thousands of firefighters are readying for a challenging day as temperatures climb to the low-40s along with hot, dry north-westerly winds, sparking severe fire danger.

A heatwave will this afternoon move across Sydney, with temperatures hitting 36 in the centre and 42 in Penrith.

89 fires are currently burning across NSW - all at advice level - 35 uncontained.

At 10:30am, there are three fires in the Central Coast of Sydney burning at watch and act level.

Total fire bans are in place for nine districts across Sydney and severe and high fire danger is forecast in eight areas.

 

Smoke choked Sydney Harbour today.
Smoke choked Sydney Harbour today.

Residents in fire-prone areas are being told to prepare for the worst and get ready to leave ahead of the lethal cocktail of weather conditions.

A change in the afternoon is set to bring erratic winds, potentially spreading embers and starting new fires.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said lightning could lash parts of the coast, potentially spreading fire.

A tourist wears face mask on the boardwalk at Circular Quay. Picture: Toby Zerna
A tourist wears face mask on the boardwalk at Circular Quay. Picture: Toby Zerna

The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday issued a dire caution for Tuesday, warning it will be a "very dangerous day for NSW."

Police have also urged residents not to take risks and never leave children, older people or pets in the car during heatwaves.

The hazardous weather conditions have dragged in plumes of smokes into Sydney, with poor air quality plaguing the city.

The Bureau of Meteorology says the smoke will lift through the morning before a southerly buster this afternoon. The change will not, however, clear the smoke.

The hazy conditions have sparked health warnings and those with heart or respiratory conditions are being urged to stay inside, have their reliever on hand and avoid vigorous exercise.

Heavy smoke has been blanketing Sydney for weeks. Picture: Toby Zerna
Heavy smoke has been blanketing Sydney for weeks. Picture: Toby Zerna

At least 2.7 million hectares of land has been burning since the start of this bushfire season, which has been dubbed the worst in almost 25 years.

 

The sun rises over Barangaroo. Picture: Toby Zerna
The sun rises over Barangaroo. Picture: Toby Zerna

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