A Rural Fire Service fire-fighter fights a fire burning
near a home in the Blue Mountains. REUTERS/John Donegan-ABC
Residents of the NSW Blue Mountains are beginning to flee
ahead of what's feared to be the most serious day of the
state's bushfire crisis.
Fire authorities have warned residents to leave on Wednesday
morning if they're not prepared to defend their homes, ahead
of hot, dry and windy conditions.
All Blue Mountains schools have been closed to keep families
together in the case of evacuations and people have been told
not to enter the area unless it's essential.
Premier Barry O'Farrell said Lithgow Workers Club and Penrith
Worker's Club were open for people who have nowhere else to
go and state government assistance was available there.
"We hope of course that today's conditions, today's potential
events, do not occur," he told reporters.
"As the commissioner has said repeatedly, we've planned for
the worst, but we continue to hope for the best.
"But whatever happens today, we're not out of the woods.
"This will be a long exercise, not just from these
firegrounds but from elsewhere.
The premier said the state would get through the day because
of the "extraordinary efforts" of fire authorities in
planning and firefighting.
Three of the four most serious bushfires are being battled in
the mountains west of Sydney, where more than 200 homes were
burned down last week.