The storm affected much of Sydney, including Camden, Parramatta, Sutherland, Sydney City and Liverpool.
Lightning struck a clock tower on a disused church in Sydney’s inner west, causing a fire to break out shortly after 8pm. Five fire crews attended the church on Charlotte Street, Ashfield, and by 8.30 the fire has been extinguished. No injuries were reported and fire crews remain on scene.
The NSW State Emergency Service received more than 150 calls statewide since 6pm on Tuesday, with the majority of calls originating from western Sydney, Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains.
About 18,500 Endeavour Energy customers are without power due the lightning and damaging winds associated with the storm.
The storm damage is located mainly in the Hawkesbury region as well as parts of the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Western Sydney.
Thousands of people are without power, including 1800 in Engadine and Menai in Sydney’s south and 1200 customers in Pennant Hills and Cheltenham in Sydney’s upper north shore.
The storms have also caused significant delays to the T5 Cumberland line, T2 Inner West and South line and T1 North Shore line caused by lightning strikes at Granville. Repairs are underway.
On Thursday, Brewon was the state’s hottest point at 48 degrees with other towns such as Cobar nudging 47 degrees.
Lightning sparked several fires around the state but firefighters were able to quickly contain them with the aid of fire-bombing aircraft.
There were about 30 fires burning across the state, including one north of Wellington along the Mitchell Highway in the Maryvale area. The fire was initially elevated to ‘Watch and Act’ and residents in the area were encouraged to enact their fire plans, but by 7pm the fire had been downgraded to ‘Advice’.
“There’s a couple of ignitions out west,” Mr Notara said. “Lightning and winds are strong out there, there is still a risk of elevated fire danger going through the afternoon” for areas across the Riverina and central west.
He added that warm conditions would continue on Wednesday for areas west of the divide, with the northern slopes and northwestern regions to experience very high fire danger.
The majority of the state will experience low to moderate conditions.
RFS Inspector Ben Shepherd said there was no doubt that the heatwave would continue to affect parts of the state, particularly the western parts.
“We’ve got a lot of crop that is waiting to be harvested and lots of grass growth,” he said. “The reason why it is so important to respond with so many trunks and water-bombing aircraft is the economic value of these crops is significant to the point where each hectare in a cropped area is worth $1000 to the landholder.”
While the coming days will offer some respite from hot conditions, Saturday is earmarked to see dangerous fire conditions return.
“We could see broad areas of very high and severe fire danger in the central west and Riverina area,” he said. “People need to be aware that there is not no risk of fire this year,” he said.
Laura is a crime reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.