Red alert over Sydney: Australia faces worst bushfire crisis for more than a decade as 95 separate blazes destroy hundreds of homes
A blood-red sky in central Sydney was an angry pointer to infernos raging on the city’s outskirts, as unseasonably high temperatures and ferocious winds triggered the worst bushfire emergency in New South Wales for more than a decade.
Hundreds of homes were feared to have been destroyed in 95 separate fires, including 34 burning out of control. With the flames not expected to subside for several days, the state premier, Barry O’Farrell, said that “if we get through that without the loss of life, we should thank God for miracles”.
The commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, Shane Fitzsimmons, said it had been a “very difficult and dangerous day … [of] extraordinary fire behaviour”, with flames travelling vast distances because of the winds. “This is as bad as it gets,” he said. “You’re talking destructive, damaging, and people losing everything they own.”
In Sydney, the air hung heavy with smoke and ash from fires blazing in the Blue Mountains, to the city’s west. The plume of smoke even showed up on weather radar. With familiar landmarks such as the Opera House bathed in an ethereal orange hue, health authorities warned people with respiratory problems to stay indoors. A New South Wales' RFS fire fighter looks at a bushfire burning
The bushfire season has begun ominously early this year – the temperature reached 34 degrees Celsius, although summer is officially still six weeks off – and follows Australia’s warmest 12 months on record. Although today was forecast to be much cooler, the crippling heat is expected to return at the weekend.
The deputy commissioner, Rob Rogers, told ABC television there were fears people would be found dead inside their destroyed homes. “We will be counting the toll of this tomorrow, and indeed days to come, as far as the real impact of this fire,” he said.
A haze of smoke from the bushfires shrouds the sky (Getty Images)
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 5 'Isis' schoolgirls: Missing British teenager tweets picture of her Syrian takeaway
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Power of Nepal earthquake was equivalent to 20 huge atomic bombs
Nepal earthquake video: Terrifying footage shows moment avalanche hit Everest Base Camp
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...
£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...
£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...