Fears that bush blazes could merge into ‘megafire’ outside Sydney

(CNN) — As scores of fierce bush fires threatened communities near Sydney on Monday, Australian officials warned that the hot, dry and windy conditions could create a possible “megafire.”

The fires are swallowing up large areas of bush in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, where authorities have declared a state of emergency. More than 200 homes have been damaged or destroyed.

The fires have eaten through an area larger than New York City. One in three Australians live in New South Wales.

In at least one town, Bilpin, firefighters were forced to stop containing the fire to focus instead on protecting homes.

Forecasts of high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds over the next few days in the Blue Mountains region, west of Sydney, have state officials especially concerned.

Sixty-two fires are raging in the state, 14 of them out of control, authorities said Monday. More than 1,000 firefighters are battling the blazes that have burned 116,167 hectares (about 287,000 acres) of land.

Local officials fear that three large fires spreading through the Blue Mountains could merge to form one huge inferno.


CNN has the full article

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