'Uncharted territory' as bushfires rage across Australia's east

Raging bushfires in eastern Australia block main highway

The fires were confirmed by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) on Twitter.

As of 5:30 p.m. local time Friday (1:30 a.m. ET) there were 96 fires across the state, with 57 burning out of control, according to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS).

Both states have been plagued by severe drought, and while some parts of New South Wales celebrated rain over the weekend, it was not widespread enough to mitigate the damage done by months of historically poor rainfall, making this fire season more unsafe than usual. Some residents in Jacobs Spur near the town of Kempsey have been told it is too late to evacuate so they should take shelter immediately. "Unfortunately, many people have asked for help, but due to the size and speed of the fires we couldn't reach everyone, even by road or by helicopter", New Wales firefighters said.

Emergency responses have stretched along 621 miles of Australia's coast where the fires are spread across.

The fires - many in drought-affected areas - were being exacerbated by gusty winds and up to 35C heat.

Mr Fitzsimmons said the fire service has received reports that several communities have been impacted by the blazes, including reports of injuries to residents and damage to buildings.


Firefighters battled hot and dry winds, with drought conditions contributing to the amount of fuel available for the fires to consume.

Spring in Australia lasts from September to November, with summer taking place from December to February.

About 50 bushfires are also blazing in the neighboring state of Queensland.

Queensland towns including Cooroibah and Tewantin, with a combined population of around 6,500, were told to leave by the state's fire and emergency services.

Experts estimated the bushfires have wiped out about half the koalas living on a coastal reserve in New South Wales. Australia had an early and fierce start to its bushfire season, with an elderly couple killed in a blaze in October.

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