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Air quality measures at Randwick were ‘very poor’ according to the official gauge, with residents advised to stay indoors

Sydney awoke to a blanket of smoke over parts of the city on Monday from hazard reduction burns at the weekend.

Air quality degraded to “very poor” conditions in Sydney’s east, with residents urged to remain indoors and keep their windows and doors closed until conditions improved.

The RFS commissioner, Rob Rogers, said that as long as it’s safe, firefighters would continue conducting hazard reduction burns over the next few months and this could cause further smoke build-ups because of the Sydney basin.

“Smoke goes in there overnight and the inversion layer comes in and just traps that in the morning until a bit of a breeze picks up. So that’s what happened this morning, and that’s what we’ll probably see again tomorrow,” he said.

“[For] some people is just an inconvenience, but to others, it does have health impacts on them.”

The RFS measures its hazard reduction burns by financial year. Last year up to 30 June, only 24% of the program was completed, and Rogers said “it was similar the year before” due to the extreme rain.

“We’re significantly behind and hence, we’ll continue to do hazard reductions as long as it’s safe,” he said.

When asked if there were areas of particular concern, Rogers said “it’s everywhere”.

“Anywhere where there’s properties you’ll find that we [are] trying to get burns done,” he said.

Rogers said a lot of the areas being targeted for hazard reduction burns weren’t affected during the 2019-2o Black Summer bushfires.

“If you look at even just Sydney, there’s the northern beaches area [where] there’s about a dozen that they want to try and get done,” he said.

“There’s burns in the Sutherland in the area, in the Hornsby area, and then right up and down the coast and in the ranges again, where they didn’t burn in 2019-20.”