Volunteer firefighters across New South Wales have spent the night battling an unprecedented rash of wildfires.
They managed to bring down the number burning at the highest threat status down to eleven from a record 17 yesterday, but some 50 fires remained uncontained.
A total 81 fires were still burning overnight as firefighters prepared for a wind change that would alter the course of the blazes.
At least two homes were destroyed in the Coraki area on the state’s far north coast.
Photo: AFP PHOTO / KELLY-ANN OOSTERBEEK
Some people were reportedly trapped inside their homes in several places, because of the ferocity of the blazes, and several fire fighters have been injured.
In some areas authorities have warned residents it is too dangerous and too late to leave on the roads, and they have been advised to take shelter on their properties.
Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the situation was volatile.
“Lots of impact on property and damage and destruction of property,” he said.
He said the dry conditions were fuelling the fire.
“Because the drought is just so profound there is no moisture left in the vegetation, so you’ve got a high energy output, the fire burning and moving through vegetation very quickly.”
About 1200 firefighters and 70 aircraft had been deployed “to save as many people as possible”, he said.
David Chinn, a New Zealander living in Port Macquarie on the state’s Mid North Coast, described an apocalpytic scene in the city which is surrounded by wildfires.
He told RNZ the volunteer firefighters working on the edges of the towns and cities were doing a great job to keep them safe, but that you could not help but feel scared by the strange atmosphere.
“The sky turned a dark orange colour with ash falling like snow really. Cars all had headlights on. It was like an apocalypse or something, I’d never seen anything like it before.”
The fires around Port Macquarie have given the entire region an eerie orange tinge, with one resident describing the scene as “apocalyptic”. Photo: Facebook / Live Traffic NSW
“It’s falling everywhere and just looking at our back deck it’s covered in ash and burnt leaves that have travelled here from fires a few kilometres away.”
Mr Chinn said the highways around the city were all closed, and the rural areas were at great risk.
Thousands of people have also been evacuated from their homes on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast as a large bushfire bears down on the Cooroibah area.
– ABC / RNZ