Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Sydney and parts of New South Wales were placed under a "severe" fire alert Wednesday after authorities ordered evacuations for residents in the Australian capital of Canberra.
The NSW Rural Fire Service said more than 60 fires are burning across the state, and with temperatures near 100 degrees Fahrenheit coming Thursday fires have been banned in several areas.
The RFS declared a "severe" fire danger level for Sydney and New South Wales' southern and central ranges, particularly with strong winds in the immediate forecast.
Twenty-one people have died in New South Wales so far during Australia's severe wildfire season. More than 2,100 homes and 12 million acres have been destroyed.
Fire crews said Wednesday they extinguished a fire that jumped a river and threatened homes in Canberra, prompting evacuations in two neighborhoods.
Since last June, more than 18.6 million acres of land and 6,500 structures have been burned by wildfires in Australia. More than two dozen people have died.