Smoke and flying ash has lingered over Sydney for most of the past week, turning the daytime sky orange, obscuring visibility and prompting commuters to wear breathing masks.
Bushfires fanned by winds combined into a single giant blaze north of Sydney late on Friday, blanketing Australia’s biggest city in hazardous smoke, causing weekend sports games to be canceled and prompting calls for outdoor workers to stay home.
Wildfire has killed at least four people and destroyed more than 680 homes across eastern Australia since the start of November, months earlier than the usual summer bush fire season, with the authorities blaming an extended drought, strong wind and suspected arson.
Satellite images spread on social media showed the smoke spreading across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, 2,000 kilometers away. The massive fires are in some cases just too big to put out at the moment.
Sydney is the capital city in New South Wales state. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) said in a tweet that “a number of fires in the Hawkesbury, Hunter and Central Coast areas have now joined”.
The tweet included a map showing 10 separate fires connecting about 50 kilometers north of metropolitan Sydney.
About 500 homes in coastal communities around 350 kilometers south of Sydney had lost electricity to fire and repair workers were unable to start restoring power until the area was declared safe.
These fire storms have the potential or are expected to spread further east, which unfortunately is getting into more densely populated areas, villages, communities, isolated rural areas, and other farming practices and businesses throughout the region.
Crickey Conservation Society 2019.