NSW Rural Fire Service said firemen have been working around homes in Minmi in Newcastle, North of Sydney, where the new fire has started with high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds of up to 100kmh forecast for Wednesday.

A local school was relocated to the community center as a precaution and telephone messages alerting were sent to the area's residents. Risk of new fires in the Blue Mountains on the western border of Australia's biggest city, Sydney, remained severe and thousands of residents were told to evacuate.

As the crisis entered its seventh day, at least 65 fires were raging across the state of NSW with 18 of them uncontained. Three of the state's four most serious blazes were still burning in there have destroyed over 200 homes already. One man has died, possibly of a heart attack while defending his home.

Firefighters were on Wednesday preparing themselves for the worst. Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said that the weather conditions expected on Wednesday were some of the worst he has ever seen. "We're expecting extreme fire danger ratings, across a very large geographic area," he said.

Hundreds more firefighters have been deployed to work alongside the 1,000 already there, making it one of the largest firefighting contingents ever assembled in the state's history. They are backed up by 95 helicopters and reinforcements from other states.

"If they are not successful, and if they are it would be extraordinary given the weather conditions, we are likely to see warnings develop in the very near future," Fitzsimmons said. Crews were also working to contain several large out of control blazes, particularly in the Southern Highlands and the Hawkesbury.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell drove home the message, saying regardless of what happens today "we're not out of the woods yet".

Meanwhile, one of the two boys who have been accused of setting the fire appeared in the court on Tuesday. A report said that an 11-year-old boy appeared in court on Tuesday accused of setting fire to an abandoned mattress and lighting grassfire in Newcastle last week. A 15-year-old boy will face court next month over the same fire.


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