Oct. 23 - Thousands of Australians warned to evacuate as dry winds create firestorm conditions near Sydney. Paul Chapman reports.
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Thousands of Australians are being warned to flee their homes in the Blue Mountains as hot dry winds threaten firestorm conditions.
The worst fears of those fighting New South Wales' worst bushfires in decades became a reality on Wednesday.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) NEW SOUTH WALES RURAL FIRE SERVICE COMMISSIONER SHANE FITZSIMMONS SAYING:
"We do have worsening weather conditions across the major fire grounds today including an extreme fire danger for the greater Sydney and the greater Hunter, certainly including the Blue Mountains today. Certainly overnight we've seen the cloud clear away this morning. We expect those winds to pick up quite quickly and the temperatures will rise today really lifting that fire danger."
Weather forecasters are predicting searing summer temperatures and gusting winds
(SOUNDBITE)(English) AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY, REGIONAL DIRECTOR BARRY HANSTRUM SAYING:
"Temperatures across the Sydney and Blue Mountains region have risen rapidly this morning under very clear skies. The temperatures are now in the low thirties and the winds are averaging around 40-50kph (25-31mph) and gusting up around 70kph (44mph). There's been some residual moisture in the air this morning but we're expecting that to dry out over the coming few hours so the most serious and most dangerous period of fire weather will be really from now until 3 or 4 o'clock this afternoon."
There were still 59 fires burning across the state on Wednesday.
At least 200 homes have already been destroyed since the fires began a week ago.
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