Thousands of Australians are being warned to flee their homes in the Blue Mountains as hot dry winds threaten firestorm conditions.
The worst fears of those fighting New South Wales' worst bushfires in decades became a reality on Wednesday.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) NEW SOUTH WALES RURAL FIRE SERVICE COMMISSIONER SHANE FITZSIMMONS SAYING:
"We do have worsening weather conditions across the major fire grounds today including an extreme fire danger for the greater Sydney and the greater Hunter, certainly including the Blue Mountains today. Certainly overnight we've seen the cloud clear away this morning. We expect those winds to pick up quite quickly and the temperatures will rise today really lifting that fire danger."
Weather forecasters are predicting searing summer temperatures and gusting winds
(SOUNDBITE)(English) AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY, REGIONAL DIRECTOR BARRY HANSTRUM SAYING:
"Temperatures across the Sydney and Blue Mountains region have r