Wildfires destroy homes near Sydney

Thursday 17 October 2013 19.51
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Smoke billows in the background of a cricket match at Drummoyne Oval, north of Sydney
Smoke billows in the background of a cricket match at Drummoyne Oval, north of Sydney
Entire neighbourhoods had to be evacuated because of the wildfires
Entire neighbourhoods had to be evacuated because of the wildfires
Smoke and ash from wildfires burning across New South Wales blanket a cruise ship in Sydney Harbour
Smoke and ash from wildfires burning across New South Wales blanket a cruise ship in Sydney Harbour
Smoke from wildfires fills the sky over Sydney
Smoke from wildfires fills the sky over Sydney
A plane flies into a plume of smoke near Sydney
A plane flies into a plume of smoke near Sydney
The skyline near the Sydney Opera House
The skyline near the Sydney Opera House
Sydney's skies were full of smoke
Sydney's skies were full of smoke
People take pictures at Sydney Harbour
People take pictures at Sydney Harbour
A view of the skyline from Sydney's CBD
A view of the skyline from Sydney's CBD
The sky over the Sydney Harbour Bridge
The sky over the Sydney Harbour Bridge
The view across Sydney Harbour from the base of the bridge
The view across Sydney Harbour from the base of the bridge

A spate of wildfires has destroyed at least 30 homes west of Sydney in Australia.

Fuelled by unseasonably high temperatures and strong winds, dozens of fires are burning in the Blue Mountains region and other parts of New South Wales state.

The airport at Newcastle, 160km north of Sydney, was closed and schools, workplaces and entire neighbourhoods were evacuated.

"If we get through with less than 100 homes destroyed today, we have been lucky," Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

He described the conditions as the most dangerous in the state in a decade.

Up to 600 firefighters were battling almost 80 fires earlier today.