18 October 2013 13:00 | By AFP, Francis Whittaker
PHOTOS: New South Wales bushfires

Flames blaze through the southern Australian state



New South Wales bushfires 2013 (© REX/James D. Morgan)
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New South Wales has been hit by its worst bushfire emergency in more than a decade, with the flames destroying homes and leaving Sydney's skies darkened with smoke.

Cooler temperatures and a drop in wind offered firefighters some relief Friday but 94 fires were still raging across the southern Australian state.

NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said that despite the cooler conditions the situation was still "very active, very dynamic, very dangerous".

"We are going to... continue to save life and to protect as much property as possible, but at the same time slowly take advantage of the weather conditions that are more favourable than was otherwise presented yesterday," he said, adding that 86,000 hectares (212,000 acres) had been burnt out so far.

Several major blazes fanned by high, erratic winds in unseasonably warm weather ripped through communities in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney on Thursday with whole streets razed.

One fatality has been reported so far -- a 63-year-old man who died from a heart attack as he defended his home in the Central Coast, north of Sydney.

Click or swipe through for more images of the fires.


Related:
Australia wildfires destroy homes, darken Sydney skies

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