| 12.11,19. 08:12 PM |
NSW bushfires spread to Sydney suburb of Turramurra, firefighters in action across the state as windy change moves through
Flames near Sydney homes (ABC News)
Sydney was dragged into the state's bushfire crisis this afternoon when two emergency warnings were issued in a leafy suburb on the city's North Shore.
And tonight firefighters in the Greater Sydney and Greater Hunter regions are bracing for 90kph winds from a "southerly buster" that started moving through the Sydney region about 7pm.
The strong winds are expected to hamper firefighting efforts and move up towards Port Macquarie, where a number of the emergency-level blazes are burning, later this evening.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has issued emergency warnings for a total of 12 blazes burning around the state.
Two emergency-level bushfires were burning this afternoon just north of Macquarie University in South Turramurra, only 15 kilometres from the CBD, but were later downgraded.
A fire was burning intensely in bushland halfway between the university and Sydney Adventist Hospital before a water bomber dropped pink fire retardant over the area and turned several houses pink.
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the "airplane was an urgent dispatch" and the pink colour was caused by a dye which could be easily washed off with water.
Several homes were damaged in the Turramurra blaze, adding to a toll of affected and razed homes across the state.
However the extent of the damage from the multiple blazes burning across the state is not yet known, with dangerous conditions continuing into the evening.
Transport for NSW was advising people to leave work early ahead of a southerly change that hit Illawarra about 5:30pm and hit Sydney at 7:30pm.
It said trains would operate under speed restrictions due to the heat and winds could affect roads and the rail network, with metropolitan Sydney shrouded under a thick smoke haze.
Catastrophic fire danger warnings are in place across the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions and more than 600 schools and TAFE campuses are closed.
The other emergency-level fires were across Bretti, Mares Run, Torrington, Hillville, Willi Willi, Carrai Creek, Stockyard East, Buckra Bendinni, Bora Ridge, Gospers Mountain and large areas of Clarence Valley.
Mr Fitzsimmons said it was "too late to leave" for many people in those areas.
The commissioner said there was no indication there would be catastrophic conditions tomorrow when cooler temperatures move in, but the public could "expect to see elevated fire dangers again".
A statewide total fire ban will remain in force however.
He added hot and windy conditions were forecast for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But, at this stage, catastrophic conditions were not expected.
Earlier Mr Fitzsimmons said the Greater Hunter had experienced winds of 80 kilometres per hour today.
"Complacency kills. We cannot afford for people to be complacent," he said.
"The fact that that the catastrophic rating is there, that's the highest level risk available."
While firefighters struggled at fire lines across the state, emotions boiled over in the state's north, where federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and NSW MP Janelle Saffin were heckled at a press conference in Nimbin.
The Labor leader promised local fire crews he would lobby Parliament to provide all possible assistance to impacted communities.
"My house is burning down," a woman yelled.
"All my friends are out there, my whole life is out there, everything!"
Meanwhile, a firefighter collapsed after suffering from severe heat stroke and smoke inhalation while battling blazes in the state's wine country where multiples homes were damaged.
A firefighter was also injured at the Turramurra fire and was being treated for a fractured arm and suspected fractured ribs.
The fire chief said three properties were damaged by the blaze at Hillville, south of Taree.
Temperatures climbed throughout the day ahead of the cool change.
In Bretti and Hillville, where emergency-level fires are burning, the mercury reached 37 and 35 degrees Celsius respectively.
In Sydney the temperature hit 36.5C at 3:15pm.
The wind change is also expected to bring a dust storm into Sydney on Tuesday evening.