State of Emergency Declared as fire tears Through Eastern Australia

Sydney: Greater Sydney is suffering ‘catastrophic’ fire conditions with 37C temperatures, 90kmh winds and low levels of humidity during what may be ‘the most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen’.

About 100,000 homes in the Sydney area are said to be at risk, including 31,500 in the city’s North Shore.

New South Wales is officially in a state of emergency with the Army ready to deploy helicopters to evacuate residents whose lives are endangered.

At 9am on Tuesday morning there were 57 fires across the state with 28 uncontained – and 55 in Queensland.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said 13 in the state are at ‘watch and act status’ with some expected to reach emergency level today.

Winds are forecast to pick up in the Blue Mountains from around 11am and reach up to 90kmh after 6pm, meaning any fires would spread rapidly.

Meanwhile, police have warned about criminals looting from the ruined houses of devastated bushfire victims on the mid-north coast.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said any thefts would be ‘thoroughly’ investigated, adding: ‘These communities have suffered enough without individuals stealing what items they have left.’

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