An unprecedented number of wildfires have burned through 850,000 hectares in New South Wales in recent days, closing about 600 schools and leaving at least three people dead. Follow our live blog below for updates on the situation.

It is the first time the Greater Sydney area has experienced such a threat since the ‘catastrophic’ rating was introduced in 2009. On Monday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian declared a state of emergency for New South Wales, allowing the Rural Fire Service (RFS) special powers to evacuate property and shut down electricity.

Authorities warned severe fire danger was expected on Wednesday, with little reprieve this year.

The RFS has warned firefighters will not be able to reach many people in emergency situations if the fire takes hold.

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said the state was as prepared as it could be, with military aircraft on standby to rescue people from fires if needed.

NSW has been fighting wildfires burning across the state since September, but the situation worsened last week with a record number of emergency-level fires declared across the state on Friday.

More fires have been burning across state lines in Queensland.

Some New Zealand firefighters are helping the Australian rural fire services battle the blazes. /radionz