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A dangerous smoke blanket has settled in Sydney, triggering smoke detectors and sending thousands to buy face masks, while thousands of firefighters in New South Wales have continued to fight flames.
At least 2.7 million hectares have been reported. According to the Rural Fire Service, a large fire has been burning across the state since the beginning of the 2019 bushfire season, and was still burning Tuesday afternoon north of Sydney. Many people have bought face masks because the air quality index reaches twelve times the level of danger.
The setting sun has been shining red for weeks.
Saeed Khan / Getty Images
"Today's ridiculous smoke was the turning point for buying a mask," said Sydney Parentser Nick Parmenter to BuzzFeed News on Tuesday afternoon.
The 34-year-old woman is seven months pregnant, taking additional precautions.
Sydneysiders! Don't let stigma or discomfort stop you from wearing a P2 or higher mask for protection. Hopefully my attempt to have scary eyes convinced you to do it 😂😂 #sydneysmoke
05:18 – December 05, 2019
"It is clear that this could take some time, so we don't want to take any chances," he said.
The thick smoke in Sydney today against a normal day 😷 #sydneysmoke #NSWfires #NSWbushfires
04:25 – December 05, 2019
Parmenter ensured that the mask is rated PM2.5, which means that particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less can be hidden.
NSW Health warns of these particles, the concentration of which increases with bushfires and dust. Storms are "so small that they can penetrate deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream".
This is the smoke from the bush fire, you cannot see Sydney Harbor from the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
01:08 – 10.12.2019
"I was definitely more concerned with the development of the situation, particularly with regard to the effects on our baby – both the health and the world into which they were born," said Parmenter.
"There is also a helplessness that is exacerbated by the fact that our leaders seem so uninterested in a real and ongoing crisis."
Parts of the UNSW campus are evacuated because smoke detectors are triggered and people are asked to gather outside. It's cool because the air is absolutely flawless out here. #bushfiresNSW
01:26 – 10.12.2019
Many offices, construction sites and university campuses in Sydney were cleared on Tuesday.
Marketing director Emma McGarry was forced to leave her Darlinghurst office after the fire alarm was triggered twice.
"Everyone feels generally uncomfortable with the smoke," McGarry told BuzzFeed News. "It affects everyone with existing breathing problems much more obviously, but in general it only feels more difficult to do without doing anything physically. It feels like an effort to breathe."
Your friends and family had decided against "regular activities" such as outdoor sports to avoid "headaches, dry throat, coughing, sneezing and nausea".
All of us who are creeping over the smoke in Sydney should take a moment to think about the people who are fighting this smoke … https://t.co/z5bkQoT4XG
06:03 – 06.12.2019
McGarry said it "feels pretty catastrophic to wake up with the smell of smoke every day."
"It definitely creates a feeling of general fear in most people I am in contact with," she said. "Also [there is] a general feeling of frustration that our government is no longer doing … this should be treated as a national crisis with a nationally coordinated response."
From the gateway building on Circular Quay you cannot even see the harbor bridge or the opera house. A fire alarm is triggered everywhere in the city.
00:34 – 10.12.2019
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday dismissed the question of whether the government should increase resources to respond to bushfires and said volunteer fire services should not be professionalized.
NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian said it was a "very dangerous day" for the state.
Update: Today's smoke is much worse. I've lived in Sydney all my life. That's not normal. #sydneysmoke.
20:56 – December 09, 2019
"We cannot underestimate how it can be over the summer," said Berejiklian.
"When the conditions become hotter and dryer and the wind increases, this gives us a foretaste of what we are likely to experience in the coming months."