Port Stephens schools and national parks closed due to catastrophic fire danger

A number of Port Stephens schools and its national parks will be closed on Tuesday due to the forecast catastrophic fire danger.

The NSW Department of Education updated its list of school closures about 2pm on Monday to include Fern Bay and Tanilba Bay primary schools and the whole of Tomaree Education Centre (juniors and seniors).

Medowie Christian School, St Brigid's Raymond Terrace and Alesco Senior College in Raymond Terrace will also be closed on Tuesday.

On Monday, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service closed all national parks and reserves including tracks, trails, campgrounds and picnic areas within the Central Coast, Hunter, Mid North Coast, North Coast and North West area until further notice.

The closure affects Tomaree National Park and the Worimi Conservation Lands.

A week-long State of Emergency was declared in NSW on Monday ahead of the catastrophic bushfire danger risk for the Hunter, Sydney and Illawarra-Shoalhaven areas on Tuesday. Catastrophic is the highest level of bush fire danger. Vast areas of the rest of the state face severe and extreme fire danger.

"If you are in the path of a fire in these conditions, your life will be at risk," the NSW Rural Fire Service has said.

"Avoid bushland areas. Safer locations may include large centres, such as towns or cities well away from bushland areas.

"If you are unable to leave, identify a safer location in case a fire starts. This may include a Neighbourhood Safer Place."

Neighbourhood Safer Places in Port Stephens. See more at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/neighbourhood-safer-places

Neighbourhood Safer Places in Port Stephens. See more at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/neighbourhood-safer-places

Five people have lost their lives during the start of the NSW bushfire danger period on September 1 and on Monday the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said the government would take critical steps to protect people from bushfires by declaring a State of Emergency.

Worsening bushfire conditions are expected during the coming week, with a total fire ban in place for NSW on Monday and Tuesday.

During a State of Emergency declaration, the first since October 2013, powers will be transferred from the NSW Government to the NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons pleaded for everyone to download the Fires Near Me NSW smartphone app to stay up-to-date with the latest RFS fire information. The most up-to-date road closure news can be found via the Live Traffic NSW website or smartphone app.

Emergency Services Minister David Elliott says residents face what "could be the most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen".

Medowie Rural Fire Brigade will have its doors open until 5pm on Monday to answer residents' questions about what a catastrophic bushfire means.

The RFS unit took to its Facebook page on Monday to help residents prepare for Tuesday's forecast, sharing these tips:

A bushfire plan. A plan is basically taking the time to think and get yourself sorted while you have the time to think straight and not focus on an actual fire situation. Think of what you need for you, your family and pets to get by for a day or two away from home, but also include identification documents and other precious or important items. Clothes, toiletries, pet food and water bowls, phone cords and chargers, medicines, nappies etc. Pack some bags and put them near the door. If it's all ready you just put them in the car and drive off. Pack a board game or some cards to play with the kids to relieve boredom and to take peoples minds away from the situation if even for a little while.

Decide when you will leave. If you have no plans for the day and no pets to pack up, go shopping and take in a movie. Go out for lunch. If you are at home and receive notice of a fire in your area, you need to act and prepare to leave straight away. If the threat passes then you can simply return home but you are doing everything in your ability to keep yourselves safe.

Evacuation centres. Once a need arises, centres will be organised and the public notified through news media and official social media sites such as the NSWRFS web page and Facebook.

Notifications. Fires Near Me phone app. Download it and set your watch zone for notifications of fires in your selected area. If you need help setting it up, just ask.

SMS/Txt and home phone messages. In an emergency warning situation the government will send out messages to all phones within the affected area. Even if you don't live there but are visiting, you will receive a message on your phone.

Take the time today to write yourself a list and do the things you need to do from that list to be ready on any day, not just tomorrow. Talk to friends and families and bounce ideas and thoughts off each other. You may have not thought of something that they have.

Hunter horse owners are being urged to write their contact details on their animals ahead of tomorrow's catastrophic fire conditions.

The following Port Stephens LGA schools will be closed on Tuesday:

  • Fern Bay Public School
  • Tanilba Bay Public School
  • Tomaree High School
  • Tomaree Public School

Non-government schools in Port Stephens that will be closed on Tuesday:

  • Alesco Senior College - Raymond Terrace
  • Medowie Christian School, Medowie
  • St Brigid's, Raymond Terrace

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