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Thousands flee bush fires as 2 die in Sydney floods

Battle: A firefighter tries to contain one of the 138 wildfires sweeping Queensland

THOUSANDS of homes were evacuated yesterday as large areas of north-east Australia faced a ‘catastrophic’ wildfire threat.

Nearly 140 bushfires swept across Queensland while Sydney was hit by its heaviest November rain in decades.

Flash-flooding, traffic chaos and power cuts hit the city yesterday, killing two people — a 14-year-old boy who died in a car accident and an emergency services volunteer.

Flash flood: A car drives through water caused by torrential rain in Sydney PICTURE: GETTY

Dozens of vehicles crashed in the stormy conditions, with winds of up to 55mph recorded.

Meanwhile the fire danger in areas of central Queensland was described as unprecedented. State premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned families to ‘keep together and prepare to leave if needed’.

Fire and emergency services commissioner Katarina Carroll said homes had been destroyed since Saturday in areas where it was too risky for teams to enter and assess damage. High winds and dry air were combining to make the danger extreme.

Smoke-filled skies: Scene from the air over Queensland where a ‘catastrophic’ fire danger level was in place PICTURES: AP

‘Thunderstorms are going through those areas as we speak. There will be no rain from them, in fact, they are adding to the problem,’ she said.

‘We have never, ever, in this state, been in this situation before. Not at a catastrophic level and this is uncharted waters.’ The Bureau of Meteorology forecast that weather conditions will calm down from today.