Australia’s most populous state declares wildfire emergency

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PERTH, Australia (AP) - Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales has declared a seven-day state of emergency as oppressive conditions fanned around 100 wildfires.

Firefighters keep an eye on the slow-moving fire near Mangrove Mountain, north of Sydney, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. Hot dry conditions have brought an early start to the fire season. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Around 2,000 firefighters are battling the blazes, half of which remain uncontrolled, with the support of U.S. and Canadian backup teams and personnel from the Australian Defence Force.

Sydney’s air pollution levels on Thursday ranged from poor to hazardous.

During the past month, hazardous smoke has often blanketed Australia’s most populous city and made its iconic skyline barely visible.

Hospitals have recorded a 10% increase in visits from patients with respiratory conditions during the past week.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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