SYDNEY, Australia: Massive New South Wales bush fires have killed at least three people and destroyed over 150 homes by Saturday afternoon.
Over 1,000 firefighters have been deployed to battle the emergency-level ‘five’ blazes and dangerous conditions.
A third person has been confirmed dead after a body was found in a burnt-out building at Johns River, 40km north of Taree, this afternoon. https://t.co/LnTBKZ4JQc
— NSW Police Force (@nswpolice) November 9, 2019
At least 16 firefighters and 19 civilians have been injured so far while battling the massive and unpredictable infernos that engulfed thousands of hectares of land.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said defence personnel were ready to help firefighters battle the bush fires.
As many as 99 fires are raging throughout the south-eastern Australian state, with 57 burning out of control.
New South Wales Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has confirmed at a press conference that at least seven people remain missing.
“[With] dry windy conditions across an already very dry landscape, there is every likelihood that we’ll see fires increase in their alert level,” Fitzsimmons said.
The areas most affected by the fires include Tenterfield, Armidale, Clarence Valley, Port Macquarie, Nambucca and Kempsey.
The fire service has said in a Twitter post that a number of blazes “are becoming more intense” and “more dangerous.”
A number of fires in the north coast and northern NSW areas are becoming more intense – and more dangerous. Some are creating their own weather conditions and pyrocumulous clouds are developing. These are extremely dangerous. Do not be caught in the open. #nswrfs #nswfire pic.twitter.com/a6O67wUqhv
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) November 8, 2019
It warned that some blazes are creating their own weather conditions and fire clouds, which can produce lightning without rain.
These blazes are so deadly that major roads and highways have been closed and motorists in affected areas have been advised to avoid non-essential travel.
About 50 bush fires are also burning in the neighboring state of Queensland. Residents in several areas there have been told to evacuate as emergency-level fires threaten lives and properties.
New South Wales and Queensland are prone to wildfires in spring and early summer and this year’s blazes follow Australia’s hottest summer on record, worsening drought, bush fires and reducing rainfall.