Three People Now Confirmed Dead With Five Unaccounted For In NSW Bushfires

Flames from an out of control bushfire seen from a nearby residential area in Harrington some 335km northeast of Sydney


Catastrophic fires have killed three people and razed more than 150 homes since Friday, but cooler weather overnight provided a measure of reprieve for firefighters and residents.

While cooler weather eased some of the immediate pressure yesterday, the authorities warned of "catastrophic" fire conditions ahead, including around Sydney. Many lost their homes although authorities are still to complete a detailed assessment of the damage caused by the firestorm.

She was treated for burns before being transferred to a Sydney hospital where she later died, the RFS said on Saturday.

He urged people to monitor conditions over the next two days and use the time to get ready and know what they will do if fire threatens.

As of 12:30 a.m. local time, 74 brush fires are burning across NSW, from Brisbane to Sydney, with 43 out of control, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service.

They wrote: "Today has been a hard and unsafe day".

They were also in discussions with the Australian Defence Force.

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An elderly man from Wytaliba is also believed to have been a victim.

This is already one of Australia's worst bushfire seasons and it is occurring even before the start of the Southern Hemisphere summer, with parts of the country already crippled by severe drought.

Although fire conditions were expected to be more favorable Monday, Queensland Fire and Emergency warned residents bushfire conditions will escalate Tuesday and throughout the week.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said it was unprecedented for NSW to "have so many fires" burning at the emergency alert level.

With thousands of people forced to flee from their homes, Australia's government was offering immediate emergency assistance payments of up to Aus$1,000 (US$685) to those affected and extended financial support for anyone unable to work as a result.

On Sunday, many residents spent the day waiting at a roadblock in hope of reconnecting with loved ones who had been trapped inside the devastated community after it became too late to leave.

This home was completely destroyed by the firestorm last night.

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"There is really no rainfall, no significant rainfall, until at least the end of the year and possibly into the new year", Queensland Fire and Emergency Services acting commissioner Mike Wassing told a news conference on Sunday. "We now have 31 out of 37 districts in Western Australia in the high fire rating, and three of those will go to catastrophic in the days ahead".

One of the casualties is the state's vulnerable koala population, whose habitat has been largely wiped out in the fires.

'We can not take this for granted, this a very, very frightening circumstance that people have to take seriously, ' Mr Littleproud told Sky News on Sunday.

A statewide total fire ban has been issued for Monday and Tuesday.

One of the fires in Crowdy Bay National Park, north of Taree has already burned through nearly 12,000 hectares, while the other at Mount Nardi National Park is 2200 hectares in size and out-of-control. "We have still got a lot of active fire and a lot of fire risk ahead of us". One patient suffered cardiac arrest, officials said.

A fire in Cataby, north of Perth is now at emergency level, while another emergency level fire is raging in Cooroibah north of Noosa.

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