While Australia's bushfires engulfed 50 houses on November 12, a cool change on Wednesday, November 13 brought relief to the firefighters who were trying to cease the spreading fires in the outskirts of Sydney. The cooler environment is expected to help contain the 83 fires across the country. Yet winds and their changing directions were likely to spread the fire. New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday morning that they were fortunate the catastrophic ranges were not sustained for the long durations that were originally expected. He added that the dense smoke that blanketed the northeastern part of the state the previous day had prevented strong winds from aggravating the fires. The blazes spread to an area larger than 1,000 km (620 miles) perimeter on Wednesday, with more than 1.1 million hectares (2.7 million acres) of land either burnt or burning. Reportedly over 300 new fires began in the state on Tuesday, with 19 classified as emergencies.
Police suspect that few fires were deliberately lit in Queensland and New South Wales. New South Wales Police Minister said the media that about four people were reportedly charged with breaching a total fire ban order. Yet predictions of a blast of hot air next week meant conditions would remain tough for firefighters officials warned while conditions eased on Wednesday. Fitzsimmons said that it would take a lot of time and effort to control the fire.
"We will not have all these fires contained before then," Shane Fitzsimmons said, adding that it could be "many, many weeks" before the situation is fully under control. "Unfortunately, what we need is rain... and there is certainly nothing in the forecast for the foreseeable future that's going to make any discernible difference. The losses, the damage, the consequences could have been simply enormous across such a broad geographic area," he said.