Speed Reading — Sydney Bushfires - Level 5 — 300 wpm

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Fire-fighters in Australia are battling what is being called the worst fire they have ever seen. Eight different bushfires combined north of the city of Sydney. People are dubbing it a "mega-fire". The gigantic blaze is an hour's drive from Sydney. Tens of thousands of homes and properties are in its path. The giant inferno is burning across a swath of land and its front is roughly 60km wide. Authorities say it is burning out of control and is too vast to contain. A fire official said: "We cannot stop these fires. They will just keep burning until conditions ease."

The spread of the fires has been worsened by a prolonged drought. This is worrying authorities, who said it is early in the season for the ground to be so dry. They said: "There's a tough couple of months ahead and we've already seen the horrific consequences of fire so far this season." People in Sydney are suffering from dangerous and toxic smoke. The city is covered in a choking shroud. Residents have received advice about exercising outside. Locals say it is the "worst ever" fire and is "unprecedented". An official said: "People's emotions are very, very tested and frail at the moment."

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