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NSW faces 'catastrophic fire risk' after three people died in bushfires over the weekend, & more in News in 5.

With AAP.

1. NSW faces ‘catastrophic fire risk’ after three people died in bushfires over the weekend.

NSW firefighters are continuing to battle bushfires throughout the state ahead of a catastrophic fire danger forecast for Tuesday for the Greater Sydney and Greater Hunter areas, including the Blue Mountains and Central Coast.

Over the weekend, the ferocious flames in northern NSW claimed three lives and destroyed at least 150 homes.

“We’ve got big population centres covered by that catastrophic fire danger,” RFS spokesman Anthony Clark told the ABC on Sunday.

“But also up on the north coast where we’ve simply got a lot of fires burning at the moment, those fires have got a real potential to run and impact on lives and properties on Tuesday.

“So the risk is very real.”

Mr Clark said that around the Sydney area, they were “really concerned” about the urban fringe.

“Built-up areas where people live such as the northern suburbs of Sydney, up through the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains, the Sutherland Shire – if you’re living anywhere near the bush, you are at risk,” he said.

The Bureau of Meteorology has also predicted to see severe and extreme fire danger for other large areas of the state, including the North Coast, Central Ranges and the Far South Coast.

A statewide total fire ban has been declared for Monday and Tuesday.

Large parts of the state will be subject to high and very high fire danger on Monday, and more than 40 schools will be closed.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service will also expand closures of national parks and reserves until further notice.

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A woman who died as she tried to flee the fires, was identified by media on Sunday as Julie Fletcher, 63.

Ms Fletcher’s body was discovered on Saturday night in a burnt-out home in the town of Johns River, 40km north of Taree on the mid-north coast.

Wytaliba residents Vivian Chaplain, 69, and George Nole were also named as victims, with people paying tribute to each of them on social media.

2. A 19-year-old Aboriginal man has died after a police shooting in the Northern Territory.

A 19-year-old Indigenous man has been fatally shot by police in a remote community in the Northern Territory after he allegedly lunged at an officer.

Kumanjayi Walker was shot at Yuendumu, 300 kilometres from Alice Springs, around 7pm on Saturday after two officers went to the property to arrest him.

“During that time a struggle ensued and two shots were fired and he sadly passed away later,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Michael White told reporters on Sunday.

Walker lunged at one officer as the pair attempted to arrest him, the deputy commissioner said.

“My understanding is he was armed with a weapon,” he said.

Police later reported that an altercation occurred between Walker and one of the officers, resulting in an officer being stabbed in the shoulder and then shooting his firearm, wounding the man.

First aid was applied at Yuendumu Police Station but he died a short time later.

Walker was on parole which he had breached and a warrant had been issued for his arrest, Mr White told reporters.

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The medical staff had left the community after a series of break-ins and an ambulance from a neighbouring community was called to attend the scene.

The shooting is being treated as a death in custody. A file will be prepared for the coroner.

“I’m sad about my grandson,” Monica Robinson told the Centralian Advocate.

“I was getting phone calls from all my family but I don’t know what the police did,” she said

A coronial investigation will be undertaken and the body was taken to Alice Springs.

Fewer than 800 people live in the Yuendumu community.

3. Bushfire leaves northern NSW town, Wytaliba, ‘burning like a BBQ’.

Wytaliba is “burning like a BBQ” after a devastating bushfire descended on the northern NSW town, claiming the lives of two people.

On Sunday afternoon the out-of-control fire, which has burnt through more than 12,450 hectares, was rated at watch and act.

Wytaliba farmer and school teacher Katie Roffington was stuck at a roadblock outside town on Sunday afternoon waiting for a safe passage to check on her cattle.

She said feed and kilometres of fencing had been destroyed on her 4000-hectare property but fortunately her family hadn’t endured the loss of life or their home.

“We’ve been sitting on this corner… it’s just madness here,” she told AAP on Sunday.

“There’s a little public school that’s been burnt out, a lot of homes of people who live outside the community and there’s a beautiful camping ground that’s been wiped out.”

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She said falling timber was the biggest threat at the moment and the drought had helped the fire run along the banks of the Mann River.

“It’s just rock, and the timber is falling over it and burning like a BBQ,” she said.

Three people have died in the unprecedented bushfires burning in NSW.

Wytaliba resident Vivian Chaplain has been named as one of the victims.

Ms Chaplain was treated for burns before being transferred to a Sydney hospital where she later died, the Rural Fire Service NSW said on Saturday.

Friends have posted emotional tributes on social media.

“I am so sorry for your loss … Vivian was such a beautiful person,” Laura Hayden wrote on Facebook.

“Many condolences to all at Wytaliba, each and everyone is in our hearts,” wrote Nola Mae.

It has been reported the second victim of Friday’s firestorm, who was found in a burnt car near Glen Innes, is George Nole.

Those who knew Mr Nole, an elderly man from Wytaliba, took to Facebook to pay tribute to him.

“He was such a gentlemen. Will be missed by many,” Crystal Grob posted.

RFS member Peter Chaffey, who has command of Wytaliba area, said it was likely the community wouldn’t be allowed down the steep, winding, 12-kilometre road to the town, until Monday morning.

“The whole hill has been impacted by fire and every time we go down there, we have to clear the road,” he told AAP.

“It is a crime scene down there and we have to let the police do their thing.”

Mr Chaffey said a press photographer in the town early on Sunday morning focused on the car Mr Nole died in – an act that had “stirred up the community to no end”.

“We’ve got a really sensitive community,” he said.

“I know the world wants to see the pictures.

“But I was speaking to a woman who said ‘I haven’t been able to get in there, I had dogs chained up and other pets. I know they’re deceased.’

“She needs to go in and deal with that – not see it (first) on the news.”

More than $14,000 has been raised through a GoFundMe launched to help the Wytaliba community recover.

Cerene Lowe created the fundraiser on Saturday, and by Sunday afternoon it had raised $14,045.

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“My birth place, my family home, the primary school and 80 per cent our community homes were destroyed,” Ms Lowe wrote.

“Many people have lost everything except the clothes on their back. The bridge to enter was destroyed as well. The fire is still ravaging the area and the full extent of the damage is not yet known.”

“These are my family and friends. The money raised will go to the community to help rebuild and start again.”

The funds will go towards tents, beds, water, infrastructure, repairing the local cemetery, generators and fuel, and funeral costs for those who died following the fires, Ms Lowe said.

“We’re hoping to raise $50,000 but we will need so much more to rebuild our community,” she told the ABC on Sunday.

“The community, we’ve come together as a family…we’re a strong community that will stick together through all of this.”

Prisoners who were evacuated from the Glen Innes Correctional Centre will stay at Grafton Correctional Centre until further notice, a Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said in a statement on Sunday.

4. A body found in a Sydney park is believed to be a Russian construction worker wanted over a fatal building site stabbing.

The body of a man found in a park in Sydney’s south is believed to be that of a Russian construction worker wanted over a fatal building site stabbing.

Vladimir Kondakov hitched a lift to Rockdale after 76-year-old property developer Albert Metledge was killed and his son, Antony, 33, was wounded in the double stabbing at St Peters, in Sydney’s inner west, on Wednesday.

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Police had appealed to Kondakov, 49, to hand himself in.

A man’s body was found before 8.30am on Sunday in a park off Apsley Place in Taren Point.

He was declared dead, a NSW Police spokeswoman told AAP on Sunday.

While he is yet to be formally identified, multiple media outlets report the man is believed to be Kondakov.

The death is not being treated as suspicious.

Chief Inspector Michael Merrett on Thursday told reporters the father and son were stabbed in a “violent and unprovoked” attack.

Kondakos had been an employee of the company “for some time” and there were no previous issues, he said.

5. “It’s bloody tough now.” Ash Barty puts on brave face after Federation Cup defeat.


A devastated Ashleigh Barty will use the coming weeks to recover and reflect on a massive year that culminated in a heartbreaking Fed Cup final defeat.

Australia’s bid to snap a 45-year title drought fell cruelly short, with France securing a 3-2 win in the best-of-five rubbers final in Perth.

Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia were too good for Barty and Samantha Stosur in Sunday’s doubles decider, cruising to a 6-4 6-3 victory to secure France a third Fed Cup crown.

French No.1 Mladenovic earlier stunned Barty 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-1) in an epic two-and-a-half hour singles battle at RAC Arena.

Barty was visibly distraught in the aftermath of Australia’s ninth straight Fed Cup final loss, the most recent of which had come in 1993.

But the Queenslander put on a brave face when she later fronted the media, saying she would take the time to appreciate a huge 2019 in which she won a maiden grand slam title at Roland-Garros and scaled the summit of women’s tennis.

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“It’s going to be obviously a tough one,” Barty said.

“This is something that all of us have been looking forward to for six months and I think now it’s about resting, recovery and reflecting on the year that’s been.

“For me, but I think for all of us in a Fed Cup-specific point of view, the journey that we’ve been on is just simply remarkable in the last two years.

“Even though it’s bloody tough now, in a couple of days’ time I think we’ll be alright.”

It was a tough pill to swallow for Barty’s doubles partner Stosur, having come closer than ever before in her 16-year Fed Cup career to the ultimate prize.

The 35-year-old was overlooked for the singles rubbers in Perth but insisted she had no plans to step aside from Fed Cup tennis.

“I’m sticking around for a little while yet,” Stosur said.

“This is obviously a very hard moment but this is a fantastic team to be a part of and all of these four girls are the future of Fed Cup.

“I won’t be around for 16 more years but these girls may well be so we’ve got the future in good hands.”

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