Air quality deteriorated to hazardous level and a haze of smoke settled down in Sydney due to the hazard reduction burns conducted by Rural Fire Service(RFS) in the Lower Hunter Region on Thursday. The Sydney haze also affected the visibility.

The air quality deteriorated from poor to hazardous level and the visibility was very low because smoke and ash particles contributed to the worsening quality of air. RFS said that the Sydney haze was formed as “controlled burns being undertaken in the Hawkesbury region”.

“These planned burns are an important part of preparing for and managing bushfires. Hazard reduction activities will continue while dry conditions remain. There is likely to be further smoke impact throughout Friday, Saturday and Sunday.” RSF statement read.

The NSW Rural Fire Service’s deputy commissioner Rob Rogers  said that on Friday there will be at least 60 controlled burns and it will continue during the weekend when volunteer firefighters will be out in force as stated by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Due to the Sydney haze a Virgin Airlines flight, which was going from Sydney to Darwin, had to turn around after passengers complained about smelling smoke in the cabin. A Spokesperson from the airlines informed that the plane made an air return about half-an-hour into the flight. It landed at the airport at 11 am, reported 9news.com.au.

ABC reported that the RFS NSW commissioner  Shane Fitzsimmons  said that there would be a lot of smoke in some areas and he urged the people to inform them by calling triple-0 in cases of any unattended fire. People in affected areas are asked to avoid outdoor activities. Motorists were also advised to slow down and switch on headlights in sensitive areas. People with asthma were asked to refer to their asthma management plan.

Some people showed disapproval of the RFS action.

Susannah Hayward, of Cremorne, told ABC, “I’d love to know who is authorising this and who thinks it’s okay to blithely tell Sydneysiders simply to write off their day and stay indoors to avoid breathing difficulties.”

NSW RFS website has posted a list of scheduled hazard reduction at  www.livetraffic.com.