Total ban on outdoor fires issued in Sydney

The Australian state of New South Wales has imposed a total ban on outdoor fires in and around Sydney. It cited as a reason an extremely high risk of wildfires, due to unusually hot weather.

Authorities raised the fire danger warning to the highest level on Tuesday. Outdoor fires have been completely banned. That includes barbecues and bonfires. This is the first time in nearly three years that such a ban has been implemented.

Local firefighters have started conducting hazard reduction burns. Elisabeth Goh is one of the firefighters. She said, "One of the reasons why we're doing strategic hazard reductions is to reduce the fuel loading and to mitigate the impact and severity of fires, if and when they do come into a particular area."

Temperatures in Sydney have been well above average for the month of September. The mercury hit 35.9 degrees Celsius on Tuesday at Sydney Airport.

Wildfires have already broken out in parts of the country. Schools in some places have been forced to close as a precaution.