Australia bushfires: Maps reveal extent of blazes as Sydney braces for 'catastrophe'

Firefighters in Australia are warning residents to get out of the way of quickly spreading fires.

New South Wales and Queensland are facing "catastrophic" conditions,  after high temperatures and low rainfall sparked bushfires in the two states.

The fires have already claimed three lives and destroyed more than 150 homes.

Bushfires are not uncommon in the country, but this year they have begun unusually early. 

A map compiled by My Firewatch, a collaboration between the Western Australian Land Authority and Edith Cowan University, shows just how many fires are burning across the country. 

The NSW Rural Fire Service has also released a more detailed map, warning that dangerous conditions were once again expected today.

"If you're in an area likely to be impacted by fires and you are not prepared, leave to a safer location," the fire service warned.

The fire service lists warnings for eight major bushfires burning across the state on its website. 

High temperatures were forecast for Sydney on Tuesday.
High temperatures were forecast for Sydney on Tuesday. Photo credit: Getty

Temperatures reaching 37C were forecast for Sydney, with strong winds also expected.

The city has been given a fire danger rating of "catastrophic", the first time the city has been rated at such a level since new fire danger ratings were introduced in 2009. The catastrophic rating is the highest level of bush fire danger, after moderate, high, very high, severe and extreme.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has declared a state of emergency.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) also declared a state of emergency across 42 local government areas in the state.

"We're experiencing tinder box-like conditions across much of the state and all it takes is one spark to start a fire that may burn for days," QFES acting commissioner Mike Wassing said.

On its Facebook page, QFES said it was "geared up for the day ahead".

"Bushfire conditions are expected to escalate significantly today and we need you to be ready," QFES wrote. "Fire danger will increase to severe in the Darling Downs and Granite belt today and extend to the Wide Bay Burnett tomorrow. Under these conditions, bushfires that start will be fast-moving and hard to contain."

The state of emergency gives firefighters broad powers to control government resources and force evacuations.

Hundreds of schools had been closed across both states in preparation for the fires.