At least three people were killed and more than 150 homes were gutted as bushfires raged across eastern Australia, according to authorities on Saturday.
The wildfires have mainly affected the New South Wales (NSW) state, where fire services warned of dangerous conditions on Monday and Tuesday as temperatures climbed and strong winds were expected.
A woman also died in hospital on Saturday of burns sustained near the town of Glen Innes.
A third body was found on Saturday afternoon in a burned house at the village of Johns River, north of Taree, police said.
Fire services in the affected area are on high alert, according to NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.
“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.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited an evacuation centre and praised the resilience of the affected people and the firefighters’ efforts, announcing economic measures to help those displaced by the fires.
Taking to Twitter, Morrison tweeted, “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”
The bravery is unspeakable. Thank you to all those who are out there right now, to their families and all those supporting them and backing them in. pic.twitter.com/N3fxmtHnuE
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) November 8, 2019
The government is considering deploying military personnel for helping in efforts to douse the fires, which have also affected the neighbouring state of Queensland.
Between July 1 to November 5, around 574,727 hectares of land – the size of Luxembourg – was burned in Australian bushfires, already exceeding the area consumed by blazes in the previous two seasons put together.
The fire season in Australia varies by area and weather conditions, although it usually occurs during the southern summer (between the months of December and March).
The worst fires in the Oceanic country in recent decades occurred in early February 2009 in the state of Victoria (southeast), causing 173 deaths and leaving 414 injured while burning an area of 4,500 sq.km.