New Year’s fireworks OK’d in Sydney as wildfire risk worsens

Canberra, Sydney will set off its iconic New Year’s Eve fireworks after being granted an exemption to a total fire ban Monday, with other Australian cities canceling their celebrations due to a worsening wildfire risk, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Pressure had built for Sydney’s spectacle to be scrapped before the New South Wales Rural Fire Service approved the event on Monday. The popular celebrations are expected to attract around a million people to Sydney’s famous harbor front and generate 130 million Australian dollars ($91 million) for the state’s economy. An estimated 1 billion people worldwide watched last year’s display on television.

Australia’s most populous state has bore the brunt of wildfires that have killed 10 people and razed more than 1,000 homes across the country in the past few months. Of the 97 fires burning across New South Wales on Monday, 43 were not yet contained. A total fire ban was in place in Sydney, Canberra and other places to prevent new wildfires.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service said Monday that the latest fatality is a volunteer firefighter who died near Jingellic. Two other firefighters suffered burns.

Temperatures on Tuesday are expected to hit 33 degrees Celsius (91 Fahrenheit) in Sydney, with hotter weather in the western suburbs. Thick smoke that has shrouded the city’s iconic landmarks was also expected.

Hot air is coming out of the center of Australia, it’s particularly dry and then unfortunately conditions are expected to worsen in New South Wales as we head into Tuesday, Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday that the fireworks should go ahead to show the world Australia’s resiliency.

Source: Bahrain News Agency