Australian brushfires threaten small towns around Sydney

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Firefighters in Australia continued their efforts Wednesday to contain massive wildfires raging across New South Wales. As the afternoon, around 60 blazes were still burning in the Blue Mountains, a suburban area of west of Sydney.

Australians told to flee homes as hot winds fan Sydney fire threat
Oct. 22, 2013

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Thousands of Australians were told to evacuate their homes on Wednesday as dry winds created the conditions for a firestorm in mountainous bushland outside Sydney, where firefighters have battled for days to bring dozens of wildfires under control.

More than 200 homes have been destroyed in New South Wales (NSW) state since last Thursday, when bushfires tore through scattered communities to Sydney’s south and west, razing entire streets. One man died after suffering a heart attack trying to protect his home.

Wednesday’s fire conditions were shaping up to be the worst so far in the state’s bushfire crisis, Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

“If you don’t have a plan, let me give you one,” NSW Emergency Minister Michael Gallacher said. “Get into the car, drive down to the city metropolitan area and let the firefighters do what they can do to protect the community, should this turn for the worse.”