Bushfires raging across eastern Australia on Tuesday singed the Sydney suburbs, where firefighters were forced to scramble planes and helicopters to splatter a built-up neighbourhood with water and red retardant.
Twin blazes in the north shore suburb of Turramurra around 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the centre of Australia’s largest city tore through a eucalypt forest park and sparked spot fires in homes, before eventually being brought under control.
As night fell, the authorities said they were bringing another “clearly suspicious” blaze in a national park in the city’s southern suburbs under control.
Throughout the day more than 300 bushfires burned up and down Australia’s east coast, fanned by gale-force winds, scorching temperatures and tinder-dry bushland that has brought some of the most dangerous conditions the country has seen.
In Sydney’s Turramurra, gardens smouldered, thick smoke hung heavy in the air and cars, houses and roads were caked in raspberry-red retardant as if hit by a giant paintball.
“It was the embers that floated up that actually went across and set off spot fires in the front yards” resident Nigel Lush told AFP, adding that one roof had been set alight.
Another resident, Julia Gretton-Roberts, said the blaze spread shockingly quickly.
“Next thing I know the fire was opposite our house and it was massive and the police came and grabbed our kids and took them away,” she said. “My daughter is pretty freaked out.”