Updated Nov 29, 2020 - World

Bushfire threatens Sydney homes as record heat wave hits Australia

Helicopters are seen water bombing an out of control bushfire at Northmead on November 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
A helicopter water-bombing a bushfire at Northmead in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday morning local time. Photo: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

Scores of bushfires are threatening parts of Australia during a record heat wave — including an out-of-control blaze that prompted evacuations in Sydney Sunday and another fire ravaging the popular Queensland tourist destination of Fraser Island.

Why it matters: New South Wales' fire chief Shane Fitzsimmons told Channel 9 Sunday it's the "worst day" for fires since last season's deadly "Black Summer" bushfires, when temperature records were broken across Australia — including in Sydney, which reported its hottest November night this weekend.

  • The NSW state capital recorded a low of 77.5°F over Saturday night.
  • Another November record was reached in Sydney Sunday, when temperatures rose above 104°F for a second straight day, per the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

The big picture: Firefighters in New South Wales were battling 45 fires across Australia's most populous state amid searing heat and strong winds, per an NSW Rural Fire Service statement.

  • In the western Sydney suburb of Northmead, families were evacuated as the bushfire burned "dangerously close" to homes, Channel 9 reports.
  • A total fire ban was in effect across nine areas of NSW for the duration of Sunday.

On Fraser Island, off Australia's east coast in the state of Queensland, a bushfire has torn across 40% of the World Heritage-listed destination as it nears two popular tourist spots, News.com.au notes.

For the record: Bourke, Ulladulla, Albion Park and Albury were among other NSW towns to record highest November minimums over Saturday night.

In Victoria, November maximum temperature records were set Saturday in the towns of Mildura, where it hit 114°F, and Walpeup, which reached 113°F.

South Australia also reported new November records in the towns of Yunta (112°F) and Coober Pedy (almost 115°F), according to the BOM.

Flashback: Australia fires cause "widespread devastation across the ecosystem"

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details on the temperature records.

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