1994 Eastern seaboard fires

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The 1994 Eastern seaboard fires were bushfires in New South Wales, Australia between 27 December 1993 and 16 January 1994 were widespread along the NSW coast from Bega to the Queensland border and inland as far as Bathurst. Over 80 separate fires encouraged by extreme hot dry and windy conditions threatened many areas including the major cities of Newcastle and Sydney. The fires killed four people and burnt out over 800,000 hectares (2,000,000 acres). The fires across the state destroyed 225 homes in total - 101 of which were in the southern Sydney suburbs of Jannali and Como West where Como West Public School was also destroyed. 13 houses were destroyed in suburbs around Lane Cove National Park and 42 were destroyed around Kuringai National Park, Garigal National Park and the Royal National Park, 9 houses including a Youth hostel were destroyed in Hawkesbury Heights in the Blue Mountains.

These fires generated a large amount of media coverage internationally. Unlike earlier fires -- several of which caused much more damage -- the 1994 bushfires entered a major city, as the later Black Christmas and 2003 Canberra bushfires would. Additionally, this was the only occasion in which a major city, Sydney, had been threatened with total isolation due to fire. At the peak of the fires only the Hume Highway to the southwest remained open. All other road and rail routes out of Sydney were closed. Residents of the entire metropolitan area of Sydney had to contend with ash raining down on them, and the sky remained a blazing orange colour for days afterwards.

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