Published: Sat, December 07, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Fires ring Sydney, blanketing city in thick smoke

Fires ring Sydney, blanketing city in thick smoke

More than 2,000 firefighters are battling bushfires, which escalated in intensity late on Thursday.

"I think the really hard thing is the amount of fire people have seen since the beginning of August how much fire we've had in the northern part of NSW - well we've just replicated that in the central part of the state as well as still having the north going so it's quite extraordinary conditions".

"The resources are so stretched because of the huge number of fires up and down the coast".

Rural Fire Service NSW deputy commissioner Rob Rogers warned the fires were "very active" and could return to emergency level during the day as wind increases and warm conditions kick in.

Three large wildfires burning on the northwest edge of Australia's Greater Sydney have now merged into one monster inferno that local media have dubbed the "mega-blaze". That blaze is about the size of greater Sydney, officials said.

Nearly the entire coastal area of NSW and much of the state's northeast have a severe fire danger rating for Friday.

Prolonged drought has left much of the dry tinder in eastern Australia, and spot fires have intensified every day for the past three months. As of Thursday, there were more than 117 bush and grass fires with more than 60 not yet contained, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Fire crews have arrived from interstate as well as New Zealand and Canada, while a team from the United States will arrive tomorrow.

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The Currowan fire had destroyed at least one home near the town of Kioloa earlier in the week.

Bushfires are common in Australia, but this year's fire season has begun much earlier than usual, with temperatures soaring regularly above 40 degrees C (104°F) before the start of the southern summer and high winds scouring the drought-parched landscape.

The head of the environmental health group at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, Associate Professor Fay Johnston, told the Sydney Morning Herald, cloth or paper masks do not filter fine particles such as the ones caused by bushfire smoke.

Across the state's hospitals, over 1,100 people have been admitted experiencing asthma and other breathing-related problems triggered by the poor air quality.

"Our thoughts are with the people who have been displaced and people who are living in fear" throughout NSW, the Liberal leader said.

People have been warned to stay indoors, but the smoke in some areas has also seeped into buildings.

Emergency warnings were also current on Friday evening for the nearby Wrights Creek blaze west of Kulnara, the Kerry Ridge fire in the Wollemi National Park and the Meads Creek West fire in the Goulburn River National Park.

Sydney residents have now choked their way through the "longest period" of air pollution on record for New South Wales, authorities have confirmed.

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