Australia state declares fire emergency after 150 homes lost

A firefighter works as a bushfire burns in Port Macquarie New South Wales

NSW Health warned people in Sydney and the Hunter to take precautions with smoke blowing south from fires on the state's mid-north coast causing poor air quality from Monday afternoon.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said: "Our crews have been working hand-in-hand with the community" to tackle the bushfires that were spreading in "tinderbox-like conditions". Temperatures are expected to reach almost 100 degrees Tuesday, according to BBC News.

Camera IconA burnt out auto in a property destroyed by a bushfire is seen in Torrington, northern NSW.

Hundreds of schools were closed on Monday in response to increased fire conditions and hazardous air quality levels. Australian military personnel are supporting 1,500 firefighters who were battling 60 blazes across the state.

In New South Wales, firefighters across the Greater Sydney, Hunter, Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions are poised for catastrophic fire conditions, with the State Government warning that this could be the most unsafe bushfire week in the nation's history.

"The catastrophic weather conditions mean that things can change very quickly", she told reporters in Sydney.

A catastrophic forecast is the highest level of bushfire danger; this is the first time since the new ranking system was introduced in 2009 that the Greater Sydney area has been at catastrophic risk.

The weeklong declaration of a state of emergency gives the Rural Fire Service sweeping powers to direct any government agency to conduct or refrain from conducting any of its functions.

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Australia is suffering one of its worst bushfire seasons, which is occurring even before the start of the Southern Hemisphere summer, with parts of the country crippled by severe drought.

Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas.

"And that is not only trickier in New South Wales, we know of similar types of conditions that we are seeing in Western Australia on Tuesday as well". The whole of the country is going to be affected. "We need more action, we've got to stop this!"

"The devastating and horrific fires that we have seen, particularly in New South Wales but also in Queensland, have been absolutely chilling", Morrison said.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has said ADF personnel were not trained firefighters but they would be on standby to provide other support if needed.

Asked if there is a link between bush fires and climate change, Morrison declined to answer directly.

Firefighters are trying to predict where the fires will shift so they can deploy equipment and move people out before their lives are threatened.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack on Monday accused climate activists of politicising a tragedy at the expense of people in the danger zones.

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