Firefighters in Australia are racing to tackle devastating bushfires that have left three people dead, with authorities warning of perilous conditions ahead, including around the country’s biggest city of Sydney.

In a statement on Sunday, the New South Wales state Rural Fire Service upgraded the forecast for the greater Sydney region to “catastrophic fire danger” this coming Tuesday. It is the first time the area has been rated at the highest level since new fire danger ratings were introduced in 2009.

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“High temperatures, strong winds and low humidity are forecast, making conditions dangerous,” it said.

Conditions for Tuesday in the greater Hunter Region north of Sydney were also rated as catastrophic, the highest level of bushfire danger, while extreme or severe conditions were predicted for other

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