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PHOTOS: Smoke Engulfs Sydney Skyline as Fires Rage Nearby

A prolonged stretch of dry, hot weather has continued to fuel brushfires near Sydney, Australia. The state of New South Wales has been hit hard with fires over the last few months, and little relief is in sight.

Thick smoke spread across the sky in Sydney and neighboring cities Thursday as temperatures climbed above 30 degrees C, about 10 degrees C above average.

A combination of the heat, extremely dry air and wind gusts near 75 kph (47 mph) made conditions ripe for fires. An arid northerly breeze, as was the case Thursday, is perfect or aiding fire growth.

The scorching temperatures and parched conditions continue the trend of a warm October and mild last several months. Fortunately, a cooldown is expected into the weekend, and the wind should change direction, allowing a bit more moisture to work into the area.

However, the heat should return as will the dry conditions by next Monday.

Later next week, signs point to a stretch of cooler and potentially wet weather which may aid the fire fighting efforts.

As noted by AccuWeather.com on Oct. 10, "The extended period of parched conditions across New South Wales has made the state particularly vulnerable to fires leading into the summer. Sydney, for example, has only received 38 percent of their normal rainfall since July 1."

Brushfires are a frequent occurrence in Australia and are beneficial and a way of life for many parts of the ecosystem. However, widespread and fast-moving fires are a threat to homes and businesses across the continent, resulting in property damage and fatalities.