Sydney holding New Year’s fireworks despite raging wildfires as fire chief warns of ban

Australia’s prime minister says the wildfires won’t stop Sydney from staging its iconic New Year’s Eve fireworks show but the city’s fire chief isn’t ruling out having to cancel it if conditions warrant.

“On New Year’s Eve, the world looks at Sydney. Every single year,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who faced criticism earlier this month for taking a vacation as the wildfires raged, according to a Sky News report Sunday.

“And they look at our vibrancy, they look at our passion, they look at our success.

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2017, file photo, fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as New Year's celebrations are underway in Sydney. Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, Sydney's iconic New Year's Eve fireworks will go ahead despite the wildfire crisis to show the world "Australia’s resiliency.“ Authorities meanwhile braced for conditions to deteriorate with high temperatures. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
FILE – In this Jan. 1, 2017, file photo, fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as New Year’s celebrations are underway in Sydney. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, Sydney’s iconic New Year’s Eve fireworks will go ahead despite the wildfire crisis to show the world “Australia’s resiliency.“ Authorities meanwhile braced for conditions to deteriorate with high temperatures. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

“And so in the midst of the challenges that we have faced, subject to the safety considerations, I can think of no better time to express to the world just how optimistic and positive we are as a country.”

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However, fire authorities warned the situation will determine if the fireworks should be canceled.

“If I determine it to be too risky, that doesn’t concern me,” New South Wales fire commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said, the news outlet reported.

He added, “The pyrotechnics organizations and local authorities are used to working with us around exemptions in the summer period, whether it is Christmas, New Year or some other event.”

FIEL - In this image made from video taken on Dec. 22, 2019, and provided by Oakbank Balhannah CFS, a koala drinks water from a bottle given by a firefighter in Cudlee Creek, South Australia. Thousands of koalas are feared to have died in a wildfire-ravaged area north of Sydney, further diminishing Australia's iconic marsupial, while the fire danger accelerated Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019 in the country’s east as temperatures soared. (Oakbank Balhannah CFS via AP, File)

FIEL – In this image made from video taken on Dec. 22, 2019, and provided by Oakbank Balhannah CFS, a koala drinks water from a bottle given by a firefighter in Cudlee Creek, South Australia. Thousands of koalas are feared to have died in a wildfire-ravaged area north of Sydney, further diminishing Australia’s iconic marsupial, while the fire danger accelerated Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019 in the country’s east as temperatures soared. (Oakbank Balhannah CFS via AP, File)

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“They know the arrangements, the procedures, and we will work through to make sure that risk is appropriately addressed and, where necessary, we won’t allow them to go ahead,” he said.

A petition to cancel Sydney fireworks and divert the money to fighting the wildfires has gathered 250,000 signatures, Agence France-Presse reports.

It will cost Sydney $4.5 million to put on the show.

Wildfires have also flared in Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia.

New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, has received the brunt of the wildfire catastrophe, which has killed nine people nationwide and razed more than 1,000 homes in the past few months.

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Fire danger in Sydney and northern New South Wales is currently at very high.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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