Sydney blanketed in dense bushfire smoke amid 'severe' fire danger

The impact of the smoke, which also affects the cities of Wollongong and Newcastle, is expected to worsen due to the intense heat expected in the next two days on the east coast of Australia, making conditions hard for the more than 1,300 firefighters who have been fighting the flames for nearly two weeks.

A NSW Department of Environment spokesperson told Xinhua that it was not just smoke, but airborne dust caused by an ongoing drought which has created some of the worst air quality conditions of the past decade.

Rouse Hill is the most polluted area, with the visibility index at a massive rating of 1989 and fine particle pollution at 422.

Air quality was hazardous in northwestern Sydney on Tuesday morning and between very poor and hazardous in central and eastern Sydney.

"The key thing is people need to keep their medication at hand - they need to stay indoors, avoid exercise, and see their doctor if they feel it's necessary", Dr Charlesworth said.

The smoke had found itself stuck in the city due to an inversion overnight, which is where a layer of warm air becomes trapped between two layers of cool air.

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Winds dragged smoke from a fire at Gospers Mountain - northwest of Sydney - over the city on Tuesday morning, and the haze from the 140,000-hectare fire isn't likely to dissipate until a southerly afternoon change.

Here are some health precautions you should take in the meantime.

"#Sydney is also known as the "big smoke" and is living up to the nickname today".

Six lives and 530 homes have been lost since the NSW bushfire season hit some weeks ago, with more than 420 homes destroyed in the past fortnight alone.

"The effects have been exacerbated by the large number of wildfires still burning across NSW with smoke drifting over nearby towns and cities", the spokesperson said.

"More than 1,300 firefighters are working on these fires, undertaking backburning operations and strengthening containment lines ahead of forecast hot, dry and windy weather, with seven areas under a total fire ban", the NSW Rural Fire Service said in a statement.

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