Sydney is blanketed in smoke caused by raging bushfires as city’s air quality plummets

Thick smoke from wildfires has shrouded the Australian city of Sydney and its surrounding areas, sending air quality plummeting to the lowest level in the world, and causing dozens to be treated for smoke inhalation today.  

The Sydney skyline was barely visible as smog from the large fire at Gospers Mountain, 186 miles north-west of the metropolis, filled the air on Tuesday morning. 

The fire has burnt over 138,000 hectares and is threatening a number of properties in the area.

Strong winds have stoked the dozens of wildfires that continue to burning along most of New South Wales’ coastal areas adding to the hazardous levels of pollution in the air in Sydney – home to around five million people.

The large metropolis’ air quality hit 800 micrograms of the air pollutant PM2.5 – the safe level is between 34 to 66. In comparison air in India’s notoriously polluted capital Delhi measured between 172 and 467 and Hong Kong reached 107 on the same day.   

An image taken on a smart phone from a phone window shows how the smoke haze has blanked the city on Tuesday. The smoke is coming from the dozens of fires burning across New South Wales state

An image taken on a smart phone from a phone window shows how the smoke haze has blanked the city on Tuesday. The smoke is coming from the dozens of fires burning across New South Wales state

An image taken on a smart phone from a phone window shows how the smoke haze has blanked the city on Tuesday. The smoke is coming from the dozens of fires burning across New South Wales state

Smoke shrouds the Sydney Opera House on November 19, 2019 in Sydney, Australia as more than 50 wildfire burn across New South Wales State

Smoke shrouds the Sydney Opera House on November 19, 2019 in Sydney, Australia as more than 50 wildfire burn across New South Wales State

Smoke shrouds the Sydney Opera House on November 19, 2019 in Sydney, Australia as more than 50 wildfire burn across New South Wales State

Smoke haze covers Sydney, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, as wildfires burn near the city. The annual Australian fire season, which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer, has started early after an unusually warm and dry winter. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Smoke haze covers Sydney, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, as wildfires burn near the city. The annual Australian fire season, which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer, has started early after an unusually warm and dry winter. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Birds fly through a smoke haze that covers Sydney, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, as wildfires burn near the city. The annual Australian fire season, which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer, has started early after an unusually warm and dry winter

Birds fly through a smoke haze that covers Sydney, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, as wildfires burn near the city. The annual Australian fire season, which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer, has started early after an unusually warm and dry winter

Smoke haze covers Sydney as wildfires burn near the city. The annual Australian fire season, which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer, has started early after an unusually warm and dry winter.

At least 44 people called paramedics with reports of breathing problems, as smog from dozens of wildfires, including a large fire at a mountain north of the New South Wales city, saw air quality exceed hazardous levels. 

Health experts have warned residents, especially those with medical conditions, to remain indoors as smog from the large fire from a mountain north of the city, and dozens of other wildfires, saw the air quality plummet.

‘We know that heatwaves cause severe illness, hospital admission and even deaths, and that people are more sensitive to heatwaves early in the season,’ Richard Broom, director of environmental health at NSW Health said in a statement. 

‘The combination of heat and poor air quality adds to the risk.’

Health experts have warned residents, especially those with medical conditions, to remain indoors as smog from the large fire from the large mountain fire envelops the city which is home to 5 million people

Health experts have warned residents, especially those with medical conditions, to remain indoors as smog from the large fire from the large mountain fire envelops the city which is home to 5 million people

Health experts have warned residents, especially those with medical conditions, to remain indoors as smog from the large fire from the large mountain fire envelops the city which is home to 5 million people

Dozens have reported struggling to breathe in the thick smoke that has enveloped Sydney - a city in New South Wales with a population of around five million people

Dozens have reported struggling to breathe in the thick smoke that has enveloped Sydney - a city in New South Wales with a population of around five million people

Dozens have reported struggling to breathe in the thick smoke that has enveloped Sydney – a city in New South Wales with a population of around five million people

A view of Sydney's smoke-filled skies above its picturesque city harbour. The large metropolis' air quality hit 800 micrograms of the air pollutant PM2.5 - the safe level is between 34 to 66

A view of Sydney's smoke-filled skies above its picturesque city harbour. The large metropolis' air quality hit 800 micrograms of the air pollutant PM2.5 - the safe level is between 34 to 66

A view of Sydney’s smoke-filled skies above its picturesque city harbour. The large metropolis’ air quality hit 800 micrograms of the air pollutant PM2.5 – the safe level is between 34 to 66

A thick layer of smoke can be seen to blanket the Sydney's skyline as wildfires continue to rage in an earlier than usual start to the fire season in New South Wales

A thick layer of smoke can be seen to blanket the Sydney's skyline as wildfires continue to rage in an earlier than usual start to the fire season in New South Wales

A thick layer of smoke can be seen to blanket the Sydney’s skyline as wildfires continue to rage in an earlier than usual start to the fire season in New South Wales

Firefighters were scrambling to strengthen fire containment lines ahead of forecast higher temperatures for much of the rest of the week, with more than 1,300 firefighters on the ground battling the blazes. 

New South Wales’ rural fire commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, says firefighters tackling the wildfires in the region are being challenged by high temperatures and wind conditions. 

And rural fire service deputy commissioner Rob Rogers said Tuesday and Thursday will be ‘tough days’ for the state.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said temperatures are likely to rise in excess of 104F (40C) and there is no rainfall forecast.

This coupled with strong winds will create ‘catastrophic’ fire danger conditions. 

As well as the fire at Gospers Mountain, most of the coastal areas of New South Wales are under severe or very high fire danger with at least 50 fires burning across the state – of which 28 are yet to be contained.

New South Wales continues to have several severe or very high fire danger warnings in place. As the fires continue to rage the resulting smoke is spreading far and filling the air with levels of pollution that surpass many of the city's most polluted cities, like New Delhi and Hong Kong

New South Wales continues to have several severe or very high fire danger warnings in place. As the fires continue to rage the resulting smoke is spreading far and filling the air with levels of pollution that surpass many of the city's most polluted cities, like New Delhi and Hong Kong

New South Wales continues to have several severe or very high fire danger warnings in place. As the fires continue to rage the resulting smoke is spreading far and filling the air with levels of pollution that surpass many of the city’s most polluted cities, like New Delhi and Hong Kong

NSW Fire and Rescue officers protect the Colo Heights Public School from being impacted by the Gospers Mountain fire near the large Australian city of Sydney

NSW Fire and Rescue officers protect the Colo Heights Public School from being impacted by the Gospers Mountain fire near the large Australian city of Sydney

NSW Fire and Rescue officers protect the Colo Heights Public School from being impacted by the Gospers Mountain fire near the large Australian city of Sydney

Rural Fire Service crews burn a containment line around a property at Colo Heights, north west of Sydney on Saturday. The raging wildfire fire in the mountainous area is once again threatening nearby properties today

Rural Fire Service crews burn a containment line around a property at Colo Heights, north west of Sydney on Saturday. The raging wildfire fire in the mountainous area is once again threatening nearby properties today

Rural Fire Service crews burn a containment line around a property at Colo Heights, north west of Sydney on Saturday. The raging wildfire fire in the mountainous area is once again threatening nearby properties today

A helicopter drops water to protect property on Wheelbarrow Ridge at Colo Heights, north west of Sydney on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. The Gospers Mountain fire has burnt over 138,000 hectares and is again threatening properties around Colo Heights

A helicopter drops water to protect property on Wheelbarrow Ridge at Colo Heights, north west of Sydney on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. The Gospers Mountain fire has burnt over 138,000 hectares and is again threatening properties around Colo Heights

A helicopter drops water to protect property on Wheelbarrow Ridge at Colo Heights, north west of Sydney on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. The Gospers Mountain fire has burnt over 138,000 hectares and is again threatening properties around Colo Heights

The sun is seen through heavy smoke as RFS crews protect property on Wheelbarrow Ridge at Colo Heights, north west of Sydney, Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The sun is seen through heavy smoke as RFS crews protect property on Wheelbarrow Ridge at Colo Heights, north west of Sydney, Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The sun is seen through heavy smoke as RFS crews protect property on Wheelbarrow Ridge at Colo Heights, north west of Sydney, Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Parts of the state under severe fire danger on Tuesday include Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Southern Ranges and Central Ranges fire regions. 

These regions, along with the Northern Slopes and North Western regions, are also under a total fire ban. 

Fires have claimed six lives and destroyed 577 homes as the wildfire season, which usually peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer, got off to an early start early after an unusually warm and dry winter.

The current bushfire crisis has mostly been contained to the east coast of NSW and Queensland states, but officials in South Australia warned on Tuesday that forecast near-record temperatures raises the risks in that state as well. 

Despite the warnings to stay indoors locals and tourists can still be seen walking along the waterfront as smoke fills the usually blue summer sky

Despite the warnings to stay indoors locals and tourists can still be seen walking along the waterfront as smoke fills the usually blue summer sky

Despite the warnings to stay indoors locals and tourists can still be seen walking along the waterfront as smoke fills the usually blue summer sky

Many of Sydney's key landmarks can be seen shrouded in the heavy blanket of polluted smog that has seen dozens of people call in to emergency services with trouble breathing

Many of Sydney's key landmarks can be seen shrouded in the heavy blanket of polluted smog that has seen dozens of people call in to emergency services with trouble breathing

Many of Sydney’s key landmarks can be seen shrouded in the heavy blanket of polluted smog that has seen dozens of people call in to emergency services with trouble breathing

Residents watch on as fire burns close to property on Wheelbarrow Ridge Road at Colo Heights, north west of Sydney, on Tuesday

Residents watch on as fire burns close to property on Wheelbarrow Ridge Road at Colo Heights, north west of Sydney, on Tuesday

Residents watch on as fire burns close to property on Wheelbarrow Ridge Road at Colo Heights, north west of Sydney, on Tuesday

Rural fire service crews watch on as fire burns close to a property on Wheelbarrow Ridge at Colo Heights on Tuesday

Rural fire service crews watch on as fire burns close to a property on Wheelbarrow Ridge at Colo Heights on Tuesday

Rural fire service crews watch on as fire burns close to a property on Wheelbarrow Ridge at Colo Heights on Tuesday

 

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