SYDNEY : Australia's bushfires circle Sydney as temperatures soar.

Catastrophic conditions fueled massive bushfires across Australia's New South Wales state on Saturday with two blazes around Sydney burning at emergency level, while in South Australia one person was found dead in a fire zone.

Some major roads heading to the south and west from Sydney were closed for part of the day and authorities asked people to delay travel at the start of the Christmas holiday period, warning of the unpredictability of fires due to high winds and temperatures above 40C [104F]

A cooling but powerful wind with gusts of up to 90 kmh [56 mph] from the south swept through the state late on Saturday, lowing temperatures significantly but also creating risks that winds could spread the flames and embers.

Media reported one person was unaccounted for near Lithgow, a town about 140 km [85 miles] west of Sydney where a number of properties were burned.

Close to 100 fires were burning across NSW, and the RFS said some fires were were generating their own thunderstorms. Conditions were expected to improve in coming days, before another burst of hot weather in a week

''We will not get on top of these fires until we get some decent rain - we have said that for weeks and months,'' Fitzsimmons said.
No significant rainfall was expected in the next couple of months,'' the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Australia has been fighting wildfires for weeks, with blazes destroying more than 700 homes and nearly 3 million acres [1.2 million hectares] of bushland. [Reuters].


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