Massive bush fires, horrendous heat and worsening drought plague Australia as summer nears

A water taxis drives by as smoke haze hangs over the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. The annual Australian fire season, which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer, has started early after an unusually warm and dry winter. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft) XRR103 XRR103

Fires in New South Wales covered Sydney and other coastal areas in a stifling blanket of hazardous smoke while the nation's heat has been unrelenting. Especially worrisome is that peak fire activity comes typically in summer, which has yet to arrive.

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