Teen girl charged with igniting "out of control" bushfire

A TEENAGE girl has been charged with deliberately lighting an "out of control" bushfire which burnt homes in Carrum Downs, Victoria yesterday.

The 15-year-old lit the blaze around 3pm on Saturday. She has since been released on bail and will face the children's court at a later date.

A team of 300 firefighters, 50 trucks and three helicopters worked furiously to save homes from the fire, which has now been brought under control.

However, the NSW Rural Fire Service says 18 fires are yet to be contained across the state.

The news comes as the mercury hits 44 degrees and climbing in Sydney's west.

NSW residents have been warned to protect themselves against heat stroke, ozone pollution and fire dangers as a dangerous "blast furnace" moves across Australia.

Sydney is now the hottest capital in the country, while large parts of southeast Australia are sweltering through the extreme heat with dry, gusty north-westerly winds sending hot air from Central Australia to New South Wales, delivering the searing heat.