Haze dominates the sky above a cricket match between the South Australian Redbacks and the Western Australia Warriors at Drummoyne Oval in Sydney, 17 October 2013. Photo: Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images

17 October 2013 (Canberra Times) – Hundreds of homes may have been lost in Thursday's fires, the worst in more than 10 years, said the Premier Barry O'Farrell.

"It's suspected that by the time we've finished counting it [the loss of homes] will at least be in the hundreds," he said.

It would take days to fully assess the loss, but the Premier was grateful that no lives had been lost.

"I suspect if we get through that without the loss of life, we should all thank God for miracles."

Deputy RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said the fire situation was the worst he'd seen in more than a decade and the threat was unlikely to ease for some time.

"It was a very warm winter, a very dry winter … we're not even one month into spring and we've already got this," he told Channel Seven.

The forecast south-westerly change could even make the situation worse.

A view across Sydney Harbour Bridge and the city's central business district on 17 October 2013. Sydney is shrouded in a haze of smoke as wildfires rage in the western suburbs of Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow. Brendon Thorne / Getty Images

"The worst combination is north-westerly to south-westerly and we've got that now. We've got an incredibly long fire front and there is no sign of any rain coming."

While there would be easing conditions on Friday, the sheer size of the raging fires meant they didn't "need the weather conditions" to continue.

"They are so big they create their own climatic conditions," he said.

Around 100 fires broke out across the state, ranging from Lismore and Tenterfield in NSW's north, to Gloucester and Taree and the Great Lakes on the coast, the Blue Mountains, south to Camden, Wingecarribee near Moss Vale and the Shoalhaven. The fires destroyed homes, pastures and set a petrol station on fire near Wyong. Roads were closed across the state, with back ups of up to 20km on the Hume Highway.

NSW RFS Crews struggle to save a home near Dargan on the Bells Line of Road, 17 October 2013. Photo: Wolter Peete / Canberra Times

The worst loss of homes was at Springwood in the Blue Mountains, where at least 30 homes were lost. […]

"It's an apocalypse out there," said one of the many inner-city workers and residents who were taking of the hulking grey cloud hanging over Sydney.

The clouds were reported to be sending ash down into Sydney's inner city, including as far east as Coogee, prompting NSW Health to issue a bushfire air pollution health warning. It said air quality in many areas was likely to be reduced due to smoke particles. [more]

Bushfires in NSW 'worst in more than a decade'


Firefighters battle wildfires and try to save homes in areas west of Sydney, Australia, 17 October 2013. Photo: AP

By Stephanie Haven
17 October 2013

(USA TODAY) – Severe fires erupted Thursday across areas surrounding Sydney, Australia, in what some officials are saying may be the most serious bushfire emergency to threaten the New South Wales region in a decade.

"These conditions are not going to be over quickly," New South Wales Rural Fire Service Premier Barry O'Farrell said at an evening press conference, local time. "I suspect if we get through that without the loss of life we should all thank God for miracles."

Thirty-six fires remain uncontained across the Sydney region as more than 90 fires engulfed homes and caused widespread destruction.

The magnitude of this blaze surpasses any bushfire that's swept through NSW in a decade, said Rob Rogers, the RFS's deputy commissioner. Home destruction from the flames is expected to "at least be in the hundreds."

A red-tinted sky and intense smoke and ash marred the Sydney sunset Thursday evening as seven major blazes continued to burn through the area.

Australia began its annual "Bushfire Danger Period" on Oct. 1. Though the Sydney region is no stranger to bushfires, the blazes infrequently occur with such gusto so early in the season, which runs through March 31.

Intense bushfires erupt across Sydney

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