Orange haze descends on Sydney as dozens of wildfires rage outside city

Sean Butler stands in front of his 1958 bus after fighting a fire with five other residents of the historic township of Newnes Junction, north of Lithgow. Dean Lewins / EPA
Haze dominates the sky above a cricket match between the South Australian Redbacks and the Western Australia Warriors at Drummoyne Oval in Sydney. Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images

A spate of wildfires has destroyed at least 30 homes west of Sydney, prompting evacuations, blanketing Australia's biggest city in choking yellow smoke and closing highways.

Fueled by unseasonably high temperatures and strong winds, dozens of fires were burning in the Blue Mountains region and other parts of New South Wales state on Thursday, threatening more properties, the Rural Fire Service said. There were no immediate reports of deaths.

"If we get through with less than 100 homes destroyed today, we have been lucky," RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio, describing the conditions as the most dangerous in the state in a decade. Up to 600 firefighters were battling almost 80 fires. 

-- Reuters