2 dead, 7 missing in Australia wildfires

'Unprecedented' bushfires rip through Australia's New South Wales

It warned that some blazes were creating their own weather conditions and that fire clouds - which can produce lightning without rain - were developing.

"We just can not overstate the profound impact that the drought is having on fire behaviour", Mr Fitzsimmons said.

The RFS last night said they weren't able to help everyone who called because of the "magnitude and speed of the fires".

He told reporters in Sydney: "The devastating and horrific fires that we have seen particularly in New South Wales but also in Queensland have been absolutely chilling".

He said the blazes had resulted in "significant and widespread damage and destruction" to people, families, home-owners and the wider community with reports of damage to other buildings including a school which was destroyed.

A third person was confirmed dead on Saturday night after their body was discovered in a burnt-out home in the town of Johns River some 40 kilometres north of Taree on the mid-north coast.

The fire at Glen Innes saw 164 inmates evacuated from Glen Innes Correctional Centre to Grafton Correctional Centre on Saturday morning due to bushfire risk to the prison, Corrective Services said.

More than 30 people including firefighters received medical treatment for burns and smoke inhalation. Residents could not yet return because of the dangers of fire, smoke and loose asbestos in the rubble, the statement said.

But across an area spanning nearly 1,000 kilometres, schools were burnt, at least 150 homes were destroyed, while the authorities were forced to evacuate detention centres and old people's homes.


Forster is a town 190 miles north of Sydney, Australia's largest city.

Homes have also been lost in Queensland, where a state of emergency has been declared for 38 local government areas across the state.

In Taree, more than 300 people evacuated overnight to a social club, including Club Taree's chief executive, Morgan Stewart.

"We've very mindful of the scarcity of water and how precious it is but the reality is we can't do firefighting without water", Mr Fitzsimmons said. "We're hearing lots of stories of lost houses, lost property, goods and effects, animals, land".

MidCoast Mayor David West, who lives in Brimbin, said that he had never seen anything like the fire in his area.

"It is a very volatile and very unsafe set of circumstances that we are experiencing right across these fire grounds in New South Wales", New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

"Where we thought we had koalas, we now think they have been incinerated", Sue Ashton, president of the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, told a local news outlet.

Bushfires are common in Australia and a vast corps of firefighters had already been tackling sporadic blazes for months in the lead-up to the southern hemisphere summer.

Between two and five fires were burning at the highest danger rating during Saturday.

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