Update 1:00 pm, 31 December (New Year’s Eve): The ACT Government has called off all of tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations in Civic due to deteriorating weather and fire conditions.
The New Year’s Eve fireworks display in the City has been cancelled due to extreme weather conditions and the total fire ban imposed in the ACT over the next two days.
No decisions have been made yet about Tuesday night’s other planned activities and live music performances, as Events ACT continues to monitor weather conditions and smoke haze levels. A spokesperson said that a final call will be made tomorrow on the event as a whole, but at this stage, it’s still likely to go ahead.
In addition to the fireworks, plans for New Year’s Eve in the City include a festival of food trucks, entertainment and a countdown to midnight with live music from The Cherry Pickers, The Baker Boys and headliner ASTA, who won Triple J’s Unearthed High in 2012.
Events ACT Executive Branch Manager Jo Verden said that in addition to the total fire ban, forecast high temperatures and continuing heavy smoke haze have been a major concern in making the decision to cancel the fireworks component of the event.
“It’s disappointing that we can’t bring the fireworks to Canberra this year but the safety of the public remains a priority for providing a fun and safe event,” she said.
Events ACT is encouraging all Canberrans to plan ahead for New Year’s Eve and stay up to date with any further changes to the celebrations at events.act.gov.au/nye.
The City of Sydney Council says New Year’s Eve fireworks on Sydney Harbour will go ahead despite a petition signed by several thousand people requesting their cancellation, but the RFS won’t rule out closing down the event over safety concerns. A number of other major centres including Armidale have cancelled their fireworks displays.
ACT Emergency Services Commissioner Georgeina Whelan said today that based on forecast weather conditions and current fire danger ratings, a total fire ban has been declared for the duration of Monday, 30 December and Tuesday, 31 December under Section 114 of the Emergencies Act 2004.
“The Fire Danger Rating for this period is predicted to be severe,” Ms Whelan said. “This means if a fire starts it will be difficult to control and will spread quickly. The ACT is well resourced and the current deployments to support NSW do not impact the level of fire protection to Canberra and the surrounding regions.”
The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting hot, dry and windy conditions over this period with temperatures predicted to reach 39 degrees. A smoke haze will remain in the region, fed by fires across the south-east.
Residents in bushfire-prone areas are urged to review their Bushfire Survival Plan or if you don’t have a plan in place, to take the time to create one.
Keep up-to-date via the ESA website, ESA Twitter and ESA Facebook, local ACT media outlets or by calling Access Canberra on 13 22 81.
To find out more about Total Fire Bans, including any closures or restrictions visit esa.act.gov.au.