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An eerie and silhouetted shot of the sun I captured on Sunday, 20th October, 2013 at 5.34pm, showing a red ring of fire.
The fires were still burning in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney three days after they started. The sky again in Sydney had this amazing red hue from the smoke in the atmosphere, and the sun was so bright and colorful.
BUSHFIRES SURROUNDING SYDNEY - The Blue Mountains
(News Article from Thrs 17.10.13)
Hundreds of homes may have been lost in Thursday's fires, the worst in more than 10 years, said the Premier Barry O'Farrell.
"It's suspected that by the time we've finished counting it [the loss of homes] will at least be in the hundreds," he said.
It would take days to fully assess the loss, but the Premier was grateful that no lives had been lost.
"I suspect if we get through that without the loss of life, we should all thank God for miracles."
Deputy RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said the fire situation was the worst he'd seen in more than a decade and the threat was unlikely to ease for some time.
"It was a very warm winter, a very dry winter ... we're not even one month into spring and we've already got this," he told Channel Seven.
The forecast south-westerly change could even make the situation worse.
"The worst combination is north-westerly to south-westerly and we've got that now. We've got an incredibly long fire front and there is no sign of any rain coming."
While there would be easing conditions on Friday, the sheer size of the raging fires meant they didn't "need the weather conditions" to continue.
"They are so big they create their own climatic conditions," he said.
Around 100 fires broke out across the state, ranging from Lismore and Tenterfield in NSW's north, to Gloucester and Taree and the Great Lakes on the coast, the Blue Mountains, south to Camden, Wingecarribee near Moss Vale and the Shoalhaven. The fires destroyed homes, pastures and set a petrol station on fire near Wyong. Roads were closed across the state, with back ups of up to 20km on the Hume Highway.
The worst loss of homes was at Springwood in the Blue Mountains, where at least 30 homes were lost.
Ferocious winds fanned the blaze that destroyed the dream home where Joe Moore, Springwood Country Club's golf professional, had lived with his wife and seven children, including four foster children.
"This reminds me of what happened in Melbourne a couple of years ago," Mr Moore said. "Whichever way you look, it was the impossible fire to fight."
There were unconfirmed reports of properties being lost at North Doyalson, on the Central Coast; at Lithgow; at Yanderra and Balmoral, in the Southern Highlands; and in Port Stephens. Newcastle airport was closed and evacuated except for a skeleton staff because of a bushfire at Heatherbrae, 16km away.
Late on Thursday, the NSW Emergency Services Minister Mike Gallacher said the bushfire situation across the state was "very tough going indeed".
"You only need to look out into the sky and see the bloom and ash that is hanging over Sydney," he told ABC. "That's coming from the fires burning in the Blue Mountains."
During the day, more than 8500 homes in the west, south-west and north of Sydney lost power, as wind gusts of up to 70km/h brought branches down on powerlines.
In the Blue Mountains, power was cut to about 4500 homes and businesses in Katoomba, Winmalee and parts of Leura, Blackheath and Mount Victoria.
In the Macarthur region, the worst-affected areas were Wilton, Menangle and parts of Campbelltown.
While the next 24 hours should bring a cool change, it wasn't expected to contain much rain.
In Lithgow, attempts by firefighters to waterbomb a fire were hindered by 90km/h winds, RFS spokesman Joel Kursawe said.
Those winds are capable of carrying embers up to six kilometres.
"The problem is when you've got aircraft over fires like that with [those] winds, a lot of the time they're just getting knocked around in the sky," Mr Kursawe told journalists at RFS headquarters in Sydney.
By late Thursday afternoon, the fires surrounding Sydney had turned the sun into bright red, threatening ball.
"It's an apocalypse out there," said one of the many inner-city workers and residents who were taking of the hulking grey cloud hanging over Sydney.
The clouds were reported to be sending ash down into Sydney's inner city, including as far east as Coogee, prompting NSW Health to issue a bushfire air pollution health warning. It said air quality in many areas was likely to be reduced due to smoke particles.
�Already, smoke from bushfires burning in the Blue Mountains region and Muswellbrook areas has been blown east to Sydney city and coastal suburbs,� said Professor Wayne Smith, the director of the environmental health branch.
�Particle levels are likely to be higher outdoors than indoors, so people sensitive to fine particles should limit the time they spend outside."
[Article from the Sydney Morning Herald - Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/bushfires-in-nsw-worst-in-more-than-a-decade-20131017-2voyu.html#ixzz2i2DsUH4s ]
October 26th, 2013
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