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Strong winds and high temperatures are hampering efforts to tame the enormous fires. (REX/Brad Hunter/Newspix)

Australia bushfires: Homes destroyed and communities devastated as fire spreads

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed as firefighters battle fierce wildfires raging through the Blue Mountains and Sydney's suburbs. Although bushfires are common in the Australian summer the season has started unusually early. These fires are uncommonly fast and ferocious and are the worst Sydney has seen in fifty years. Smoke from the fires settled over the coastal city, plunging everything into a smoky orange haze and causing ash to rain from the skies.