The Hawkesbury Local Government Area (LGA) has been included in a catastrophic fire danger warning issued for Tuesday by the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS).
The catastrophic warning - the highest level of bushfire danger - is forecast for the Greater Sydney and Greater Hunter areas on November 12, due to worsening weather conditions, an RFS statement said.
Schools including Bilpin Public School, Cattai Public School, Colo Heights Public School, Colo HIgh School, Comleroy Road Public School, Freemans Reach Public School, Glossodia Public School, Grose View Public School, Kurmond Public School, Kurrajong East Public School, Kurrajong North Public School, Maroota Public School, Oakville Public School, Vineyard Public School, Wisemans Ferry Public School, Hawkesbury Independent School (Kurrajong), and Kuyper Christian School have been listed as non-operational due to increased fire risk on November 12.
Parents should contact their child's school directly if it is not yet listed on the website to check whether it will be operational.
Greater Sydney Local Land Services (GSLLS) is currently in the process of setting up evacuation centres for livestock and other animal owners in key areas of the Greater Sydney region, including in the Hawkesbury, and details will be made available as soon as arrangements have been made, a statement said.
The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah has also announced it will be closed tomorrow for safety reasons.
Hawkesbury is included in the Greater Sydney region, and it is the first time the rating has been forecast for the area.
Mayor Barry Calvert urged locals to ensure they had a bushfire survival plan in place.
"Large parts of the Hawkesbury are classified as Bush Fire Prone Areas," Cr Calvert said in a statement.
"At this stage we do not have any advice from the NSW Rural Fire Service about evacuation centres for residents or animals. We encourage you to continue to prepare and keep up to date with advice from the NSW Rural Fire Service.
"Hawkesbury City Council is actively supporting the NSW Rural Fire Service and other State Agencies in preparing for tomorrow. As soon as we have any new information, we will pass it onto our community via council's website www.hawkesbury.nsw.gov.au and social media."
High temperatures, strong winds and low humidity are forecast, making conditions dangerous, the NSW RFS statement said.
"Catastrophic is the highest level of bush fire danger. Homes are not designed to withstand a fire under these conditions," the statement said.
"If a fire starts and takes hold during Catastrophic fire danger conditions, lives and homes will be at risk."
Advice for people in areas of Catastrophic fire danger include:
- Avoid bush fire prone areas. A safer area may be a large town or city, shopping centres or facilities well away from bushland areas.
- Schools in identified high risk areas will be closed. Schools will notify affected students. Start making arrangements now.
- If you are unable to leave, identify a safe location which may be nearby. This may include a Neighbourhood Safer Place.
"It is the first time since new fire danger ratings were introduced in 2009 that catastrophic fire danger has been forecast for Sydney," the RFS stated.
A statewide total fire ban has been declared for all areas of NSW for all of today (Monday) and Tuesday.