Fire ban declared for tomorrow 

WONDER WALL: A dust storm off Western Australia.
WONDER WALL: A dust storm off Western Australia.

A total fire ban has again been declared for New South Wales on Saturday. 

While temperatures won't reach the highs of Tuesday, Newcastle is predicted to hit 38 degrees, with those in the valley are looking at temperatures up to 43 degrees. 

During a total fire ban no fire may be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended. 

The ban is also in place today. 

Dust cloud caps wild weather 

WAVES and winds are lashing north-west Australia while a wave of heat will engulf the eastern states again on Friday.

A cyclone off Western Australia’s north coast is intensifying as it comes closer to land, prompting authorities to warn residents to prepare their homes and emergency kits.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned  that  the category three severe tropical cyclone Narelle  was  expected to be upgraded to   level four   as it continued   towards the Northwest Cape, near Karratha. The bureau predicted   gales with gusts to 100km/h in coastal areas  on Friday, along with thunderstorms, isolated heavy rainfall and possibly even stronger winds developing through to Saturday.

Ahead of the cyclone, West Australians were treated to a stunning dust storm off the coast of Onslow on Wednesday. The Bureau of Meteorology said the incredible  sight  of a  ‘‘red wave’’ at sea was created  as wind and rain caused the storm to dump the sand and dust it had  taken  from the land.

  The   storm  was unrelated to the cyclone, the bureau said, but caused wind gusts of up to 102km/h.

On the other side of the wide brown land,  NSW firefighters  were  racing  against time  to contain problem fires before another explosion of scorching weather.

Making the most of cooler conditions, they got on top of the fires to such an extent  yesterday  that there were no emergency or ‘‘watch and act’’ alerts in force.

Of the 120 fires still burning in the state, only 17 remained uncontained.

But the Bureau of Meteorology forecast a return to heatwave conditions across large parts of the state from  Friday, after a two-day lull.

Rural Fire Services  Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said much work remained to be done into  last night.

The RFS declared a statewide total fire ban  would  be in place for  Friday.

The one piece of welcome weather news for firefighters was the prospect of lighter winds, after gusts of 70 km/h and more that hampered their efforts earlier this week.

‘‘Fortunately, at this stage, all the indicators are we’re not expecting the sorts of catastrophic conditions that we experienced back on Tuesday,’’ said Mr Fitzsimmons.

But he warned that wide areas of the state would experience high, severe and even extreme fire danger conditions.

That included northern NSW, the Great Dividing Range, the eastern seaboard and the Riverina.

So far only one house has been lost in the fires, at Yarrabin in the Cooma-Monaro region.

 However, around 370,000 hectares have been burnt and an estimated 10,000 sheep worth an estimated $1 million have died.

Three fires were still causing concern  on Thursday. 

More than 100 firefighters were working to contain the Deans Gap fire south of Sussex Inlet, in the Shoalhaven. It has burned through 5700 hectares and coastal village residents have been urged to remain vigilant as the  risk builds towards the weekend.

‘‘We need to get a really good handle on that fire before high fire danger conditions return,’’ an RFS spokeswoman said.

The Yarrabin fire burning in the Kybeyan Valley was still uncontained after burning through 9400hectares,  and firefighters were working to protect rural properties under threat.

Another uncontained fire at Cobblers Road, 10 kilometres west of Yass, has slowed.   While not threatening properties, it was approaching an electricity transmission line.  AAP