Sydney - Australia's devastating bushfire season is far from over despite cooler weather this week, Victorian state officials warned on Tuesday as Melbourne was blanketed by hazardous smoke.
At least 180 fires continued to burn across Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) states although widespread rainfall is forecast for fire-hit areas on the east coast from Wednesday.
About 20 bushfires were yet to be contained in NSW, Australia's most populous state, while in Victoria five fires were at the 'Watch and Act' advice warning, one level below emergency status, authorities said.
"I wish I could say this was over, but we have a long way to go. We've got the smoke in our communities at the moment and it is at very poor or hazardous levels," Lisa Neville, Victoria’s emergency services and police minister told a media briefing.
Brett Sutton, the state's chief health officer, said he believed air quality in Melbourne, Australia's second-biggest city, had dropped to the "worst in the world" overnight as cooler temperatures brought particles in the air close to the ground.