Bushfires in Australia are suffocating Sydney. Smoke and ash have been covering the city of 5 million people for two weeks, turning the sky orange, reducing visibility, and irritating the eyes, nose, and throat of residents.
The smoke is so widespread and thick that it’s shrouding landmarks from view; triggering fire alarms in homes, offices, and university campuses; and even causing haze in parts of New Zealand.
Richard Brooe, the director of environmental health for New South Wales, said, “This smoky period we’ve been experiencing for the past month or so, it is unprecedented, so these conditions are a risk to people’s health.”
The air quality index in Sydney is currently 11 times higher than the threshold considered hazardous. Children, the elderly, and those with health conditions are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality.
Since the fires started raging in November, at least four people have been killed, with over 680 homes and 2.5 million acres of bushland burned.
Sydney residents have not been officially ordered to evacuate, though many are doing so anyway to escape the poor air quality.