World News

Giant fire near Sydney may take weeks to be put out

MELBOURNE: A giant blaze that has blanketed Sydney, Australia's largest city, in a hazardous smoke may take many weeks to put out, fire services said late on Friday (Dec 6), with the whole region fighting nearly 100 wildfires and expectations that the worst is yet to come.

While common in Australia during the hot summer, which begins in December, bushfires have begun much earlier this season, blamed on soaring temperatures, dry winds and suspected arson.

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READ: Sydney smoke crisis 'longest on record'

The most recent blaze north of Sydney, burning across 335,000 hectares, has caused the cancellation of many outdoor weekend activities as smoke and ash have lingered over the city.

"These will take many weeks to put out – and only when we get good rain," the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said in a statement late on Friday.

People watch as the fire front approaches their home at Nabiac, around 350km north of Sydney, on Nov 15, 2019. (Photo: AFP/William West)

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Wildfires have killed at least four people and destroyed more than 680 homes across eastern Australia, according to authorities.

Although the heat and wind eased a bit on Saturday near Sydney, RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told Australia's Sky News television that it was going to be "another tough day for everybody involved".

READ: Australian PM denies climate link as smoke chokes Sydney