Two people have died and at least 100 homes have been destroyed as bushfires rage across northern NSW, authorities said on Saturday.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) said early on Saturday that firefighters had discovered the remains of a person in a vehicle and up to seven other people remained unaccounted for.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed the second death on Saturday.
Dreadful news of the tragic loss of life due to the fires in Northern NSW. Thank you to the more than 1300 brave volunteers and emergency services personnel risking their own lives for the safety of others. We will make sure you have all the support you need. @NSWRFSpic.twitter.com/HkxhzbWhbr
— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) November 9, 2019
NSW RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told the ABC that more dangerous fire conditions could be expected on Saturday.
“I’m expecting to see those alert levels change throughout the day, probably worsen, more likely than not, as the afternoon winds pick up and the fire behaviour spreads a little more,” Fitzsimmons said.
This is one of Australia’s worst bushfire seasons, with parts of the country facing the worst droughts in living memory.
On Friday, NSW fire authorities issued a record number of emergency warnings, with 17 fires declared to be at an emergency level as high winds and dry-conditions saw fires spread rapidly.
Mid north council, David West told ABC radio “the numbers are horrendous.”
“We’ve got over 580 people registered at Club Taree [evacuation centre], 170 at the Tuncurry bowling club, and at Old Bar 80 people are registered.”
“I’ve never seen fires like this in my life,” he said. “When I look at the fire website, and the Hillville fire, progressing to the coast and Old Bar and Diamond Beach, these are heavily populated areas, heavily timbered areas.
“This state is burning.”
At 12pm there are 81 fires burning across NSW with 43 uncontained. In yesterday’s extremely dangerous fire activity, at least 100 homes were lost. This number is expected to increase. There have also been 2 people confirmed dead and 7 still unaccounted for. #nswrfs#nswfirespic.twitter.com/j054qngH3H
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) November 9, 2019
On Saturday morning, there were six emergency-level fires burning in NSW, with more than 70 fires across the state in total.
Further north in Queensland, thousands of residents from the Sunshine Coast region spent the night in evacuation centres, after fire authorities told them to leave. There are 36 fires burning across QLD.
The Queensland Fire & Emergency Services declared one fire to be at an emergency level on Saturday morning.
Today, NSW RFS Building Assessment Teams are heading to fire affected areas to assess property damage, while crews work to clear fallen trees & reopen local roads. We’re trying to get people back to their properties as soon as we can, but it may take some time. #nswrfs#nswfirespic.twitter.com/ggEmYmzacB
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) November 8, 2019
I have been receiving reports overnight and am being briefed by Emergency Services Australia this morning to ensure all resources are being deployed as necessary and that the support and relief measures are being delivered on the ground.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) November 8, 2019
Will Ziebell contributed to this report.
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