Severe fires erupted Thursday across areas surrounding Sydney, Australia, in what some officials are saying may be the most serious bushfire emergency to threaten the New South Wales region in a decade.
"These conditions are not going to be over quickly," New South Wales Rural Fire Service Premier Barry O'Farrell said at an evening press conference, local time. "I suspect if we get through that without the loss of life we should all thank God for miracles."
Thirty-six fires remain uncontained across the Sydney region as more than 90 fires engulfed homes and caused widespread destruction.
The magnitude of this blaze surpasses any bushfire that's swept through NSW in a decade, said Rob Rogers, the RFS's deputy commissioner. Home destruction from the flames is expected to "at least be in the hundreds."
A red-tinted sky and intense smoke and ash marred the Sydney sunset Thursday evening as seven major blazes continued to burn through the area.