Eight fires around Sydney have obscured the city of 5 million people



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Eight fires around Sydney have obscured the city of 5 million people



FIREFIGHTERS today struggled to stop nearly 150 fires in the state of New South Wales as strong winds ignited flames and once again dangerous smoke swept Sydney, Australia's largest city.

Since early November, at least four people have been killed in fires and more than 680 homes destroyed, with fires still up in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.



While nearly 150 fires have been ignited across Australia's east coast, New South Wales Rural Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said authorities were particularly concerned about the eight fires surrounding Sydney, which are home to about 5 million people.

This year's fire season started much earlier

“They have the potential or are expected to expand further east, which unfortunately enters populated areas, villages, communities, isolated rural areas and agricultural and business businesses throughout the region,” Fitzsimmons told reporters in Sydney.

Several fires northwest of the city merged together to form one large front that was spread by hot, dry winds, he said.

Fires are common in Australia, but this year's fire season started much earlier than usual with temperatures regularly rising above 40 degrees Celsius before the start of summer and strong winds blowing through the drained landscape.

Australia's worst record fires destroyed thousands of homes in Victoria in February 2009, killing 173 and injuring 414.

Eight fires around Sydney have obscured the city of 5 million people

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