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Sydney's Most Iconic Landmarks Disappear As Smoke Suffocates City

The Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Town Hall vanished on Monday as thick bushfire smoke hid them from view, shut down public transport and forced residents indoors.

The city's ferry services were stopped across the harbour on Monday afternoon due to the smoke which was so thick that air quality levels were declared "hazardous".

So far no other public transport services has been impacted but motorists have been urged to take care on the roads with reduced visibility sparking safety concerns. 

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Circular Quay looking out towards the Opera House on Tuesday morning. Image: Dan Sutton.

The smoke left the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House barely visible.

Smoke haze is seen over Sydney Harbour as the air quality index reached as higher than ten times hazardous levels in some suburbs. Image: Getty
Thick smoke from wildfires cloaks the Opera House in Sydney, Australia. Image: AP
The Harbour Bridge on Tuesday. Image: Getty

Much of the city remained covered by smoke throughout the day.

The view from Barangaroo looking toward Darling Habour. Image: Supplied/Maggie Gerova
Darling Harbour on Tuesday. Image: Bence Hamerli
The Sydney Cricket Ground was blanketed in smoke during day 3 of the Sheffield Shield cricket match between New South Wales and Queensland. Image: AAP

The smoke was so thick that the Rural Fire Service HQ in Homebush was forced to evacuate after a smoke alarm sounded.

Several trains stations and office buildings were also reportedly evacuated because of fire alarms.

View towards Sydney Harbour Bridge on Tuesday morning. Air quality in some parts of Sydney was 12 times the hazardous levels. Image: Supplied/Lily Tao

10 News First understands 500 automatic fire alarms were triggered throughout the day from the smoke.

The smoke also swept over the city's beaches.

Smoke haze seen over Bondi Beach. Image: Getty

The most choked suburbs

Air quality was deemed "hazardous" and "very poor" across parts of Sydney's north-west, south-west and the Hunter and Central Coast in the morning.

The inner west and parts of the western suburbs were also among the most choked regions.

Air quality in NSW between 9-10am on Tuesday. Image: NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

In Macquarie Park, the air quality index reached 2214, Parramatta North reached 2024 while Rouse Hill has peaked at 1830.

To put that in perspective, the 'hazardous' threshold is 200, meaning the air quality in the most smoke-filled suburbs is more than 11 times hazardous levels.

In the CBD, levels lingered around 341. You can get a live update of air quality near you here.

Smoke haze is seen over Iron Cove Bridge. Image: Getty
The smoke-filled view from Sydney's Balmoral Beach. Image: Supplied/Bernie Coen

The smoke was dragged in by northwesterly winds in the last 24 hours.

"There is a warm invasion across the Sydney CBD and basin," Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Abrar Shabren told 10 daily.

"The smoke is quite thick in the city and for that reason, we’re not getting much sunlight so it won't break the inversion".

Stay Indoors

Anyone with respiratory or heart conditions is being urged to be vigilant and remain indoors.

Director of Environmental Health Dr Richard Broome warned that the conditions are a danger to Sydneysiders.

Transport NSW workers are seen wearing masks as smoke haze from bushfires in New South Wales blankets the CBD. Image: AAP

“We are urging people to avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day, to minimise physical activity, to keep well hydrated and reduce their exposure to smoky air," Dr Broome said.

"Signs of heat-related illness include dizziness, tiredness, irritability, thirst, fainting, muscle pains or cramps, headache, changes in skin colour, rapid pulse, shallow breathing, vomiting and confusion,” he said.

Dr Anne Fawcett of the Sydney School of Veterinary Science said the smoke is affecting animals in the same ways as humans.

The obvious solution is to keep animals indoors as much as possible, but if that is not possible, Fawcett advises to have "clean air breaks".

For animals in aviaries and hutches, it is important they are kept well ventilated so pets are not overcome by smoke.

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Smoke Haze To Continue

BOM's weekly forecast for Sydney warns the smoke haze will continue through until at least Saturday.

A severe fire weather warning has already been issued for Wednesday for people in the Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Monaro Alpine, Southern Ranges and Central Ranges regions.