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

Elias Hubbard
November 8, 2019

Fitzsimmons said 370,000 hectares (914,290 acres) of land were ablaze in New South Wales, more than the entire area burnt in bushfires past year. By early evening, the number of emergency-level fires had eased to 15 fires simultaneously burning and three fires at that same level burning in Queensland state to the north.

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 risky than usual.

Mr Fitzsimmons added there have been more than 1,000 firefighters and 70 aircraft deployed by authorities to save "as many people as possible".

Authorities say some homes have been lost and that a number of people may have become trapped.

In some areas, residents were told to simply "seek shelter as it is too late to leave".

The map issued by the fire service shows the locations of the devastating blazes.

The areas affected by the fires include Tenterfield, Armidale, Clarence Valley, Port Macquarie, Nambucca and Kempsey according to Nine News. At least five schools have closed due to the fires.

There have been reports of local communities residing near the fires sustaining injuries and their properties being damaged.

"The "high concentration of fire and extreme volatility and extraordinary fire behavior" was being driven by a "drought stricken landscape" and hot, dry, windy conditions", he said.

Firefighters in northern NSW are also preparing for an upsurge in adverse conditions on Friday, when temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius are expected in the city of Brisbane, whereas in Western Australia, temperatures are forecast to exceed 40 degrees in places such as Perth.

There are now 50 bushfires raging in neighbouring Queensland, with residents across several areas told to evacuate as properties are under threat.

However, experts estimated on Friday that almost half the koalas living on a coastal reserve in New South Wales have been wiped out, with the rest of the colony of originally 500 to 600 animals still under threat.

Bushfires are common in Australia, but the country is gearing up for busy bushfire season with record temperatures predicted for the summer months.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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