Australia Braces For Bushfires As Strong Winds Create "Severe" Conditions

A firefighter attempts to control fire in Newnes Plateau in New South Wales at the weekend

Smoke from bushfires surrounding Sydney has also caused the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia to abandon the Big Boat Challenge, a traditional prelude to the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The severity of the bush fires has led to the fear of the disappearance of koalas if such disasters continue and the remaining eucalyptus forests on the north coast of New South Wales are unprotected.

All residents and particularly those with pre-existing respiratory conditions have been warned to avoid outdoors activities.

The air quality index for some parts of the city was above 1,000 in the morning - five times the "hazardous" threshold of 200.

Many of Sydney's beaches, such as Balmoral and Parsley Bay, have been stained with ash, turning the waters black.

That haze has turned the daytime sky orange, obscured visibility and prompted many commuters to wear breathing masks.

Bushfires are fashioned in Australia's hot, dry summers, but the ferocity and early arrival of the fires in the southern spring is unprecedented. Experts have said climate change has left bushland tinder-dry.

Residents in fire-prone areas are being told to prepare for the worst and get ready to leave ahead of the lethal cocktail of weather conditions.

Calvert said many locals were struggling to move animals and livestock in an area renowned for breeding racehorses.

"I've been through this before about 20 years ago when I stood outside my house looking at flames 50 feet high, I decided then that I would leave early if it happened again".

Pugh, who also heads the non-profit North East Forest Alliance, estimated that 24 per cent of the koala habitat was lost along the northern coast of the New South Wales (NSW) state and recommended a moratorium on logging in the forests.

At least six people have died in the fires, which have destroyed more than 680 homes and burned more than 2.1 million hectares (5.1 million acres) of bushland since they first began in September.

A NSW Rural Firefighter establishes a backburn during bushfires in Mangrove Mountain, New South Wales.

That blanket of smoke will loom large in the background of at least one couple's happiest day, with a wedding clearly meant to take place in the shadow of the bridge taking place in the shadow of something else entirely instead.

The dense smoke even seeped into buildings on Tuesday, triggering alarms in offices and homes, and at train stations and university campuses, authorities said.



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