Australia's most populous state declares its second emergency as wildfires surround Sydney

SYDNEY:- On Thursday, Australia's most populous state declared its second emergency as extreme heat and strong winds stoked scores of uncontrolled bushfires, some on Sydney`s doorstep. 

In the same week the continent recorded its hottest day on record, thick smoke blanketed the harbour city, shrouded the Opera House and brought many outdoor activities to a halt.

The state of emergency declaration gave firefighters broad powers to control government resources, force evacuations, close roads and shut down utilities across New South Wales, where 100 wildfires are burning.

With more than half of those fires uncontrolled and temperatures forecast to hit 45 degrees Celsius (113°F) in some areas, officials warned residents to be on high alert. "The biggest concern over the next few days is the unpredictability, with extreme wind conditions, extremely hot temperatures," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

Days out from Christmas, a time when many Australians head to the coast for the holidays, Berejiklian warned people to reconsider travel plans. "Please do your research before you embark anywhere across the state," she said. "Please make sure you are prepared to change your plans should circumstances change."

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