Video shot by firefighters travelling through ongoing wildfires in Australia shows the extent of the problem.
While driving through a wooded area, the emergency service vehicles are surrounded by fires which have engulfed trees and weather conditions mean the issue is unlikely to improve.
New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, declared a fire emergency on Monday, with worsening conditions expected from wildfires that have claimed three lives and more than 150 homes.
State emergency services minister David Elliott said residents were facing what “could be the most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen”.
Fires in the state’s north-east have razed more than 3,300 square miles of forest and farmland since Friday.
Prime minister Scott Morrison has come under fire from critics for not linking the wildfires to climate change.
The Australian Green Party lay the blame at Morrison's door for his failure to tackle climate issues in the country.
“My only thoughts today are with those who have lost their lives and their families," Morrison said on Saturday when asked if the issue was related to global warming.
"The firefighters who are fighting the fires, the response effort that has to be delivered and how the Commonwealth has to respond in supporting those efforts."
Fire conditions are forecast to be worse on Tuesday than they were at the peak of the current fire emergency on Friday.
“The catastrophic weather conditions mean that things can change very quickly,” NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
“You might think you’re OK and a few minutes later you won’t be. Please heed all the messages you receive. Tomorrow (Tuesday) is not the day to be complacent,” she added.
Catastrophic fire danger has been declared for Sydney and the Hunter Valley region to the north on Tuesday, with severe and extreme danger across vast parts of the rest of the state.
“Catastrophic is off the conventional scale,” Rural Fire Service (RFS) commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
The week-long declaration of a state of emergency gives the RFS sweeping powers to direct any government agency to conduct or refrain from conducting any of its functions.
It can order the immediate shutdown of essential utilities including gas and electricity in fire-declared areas and can close roads and take possession of any property during an emergency response.
The annual Australian fire season, which peaks during the southern hemisphere summer, has started early after an unusually warm and dry winter.