Sydney bushfire: Firefighters tackle out of control blaze

A bushfire burning out of control on the southern outskirts of Sydney is moving quickly towards homes.

Firefighters have urged residents to seek shelter as it is now too late to leave.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) said the level of damage and the number of properties affected could not be confirmed.

An emergency warning was reissued today for the large blaze near the Holsworthy region, which is rapidly moving in a north-easterly direction.

The blaze, which has been burning since Saturday, was downgraded from emergency to watch-and-act status overnight, but it has flared up again.

The fire has already destroyed about 1,000 hectares of bushland around Holsworthy and Menai, with 500 firefighters trying to control it.

While no buildings have been destroyed, homes are under imminent threat.

One Menai resident, Erin Stevens, left her home yesterday evening.

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“They know what’s going to happen and we have full faith in the fire crews.”

A koala saved from the bushfires in Sydney.

A koala saved from the bushfires in Sydney. Photo: Twitter / Michael Joe

NSW Police have launched an investigation into the cause of the fire and are appealing for witnesses.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressed media at the Heathcote Fire Control Centre on Sunday afternoon, commending firefighters and volunteers for their “extraordinary courage and professionalism”.

He said it had been “unseasonably hot”.

“That is a matter of obviously of great concern but we have to deal with the worst that Mother Nature can throw at us and the worst Australians are presented with,” he said.

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the unseasonal heat was sucking “the moisture out of the vegetation”, making it highly susceptible to ignition.

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“It will be a tough week for firefighters because unfortunately what we really need is a meaningful rain right across this fire ground and right across other parts of NSW,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us and some strong winds dominating the system today which are going to prove very problematic for the firefighters and all those people in and around this fire ground area,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

The blaze started on Saturday afternoon at Moorebank and burnt in a south-easterly direction through the Holsworthy army base and around Heathcote Road.

However, as the night wore on it changed direction, meaning new areas were threatened.