Australia braces for 'catastrophic' conditions as bushfires rage

Embers are seen from a burning tree as a bushfire burns close to homes on Railway Parade in Woodford NSW Friday

Embers are seen from a burning tree as a bushfire burns close to homes on Railway Parade in Woodford NSW Friday

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian are briefed on the fires.

"They haven't eaten properly since Friday ... the snacks have all run out", she said. His warning came before the third victim was confirmed.

There were 64 fires burning as of early Monday, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said in a tweet, with 40 yet to be contained.

A State of Fire Emergency has been declared in 42 Local Government Areas in Queensland, banning the lighting of all types of outdoor fires, and bans certain activities that can cause fires to ignite.

The RFS has urged people affected by the fires on the mid-north coast and northern NSW areas to register with the Red Cross.

"People are under a lot of pressure", Morrison told reporters.

'Too late to leave' Firefighters had described the conditions Friday as "difficult" and "dangerous".

"I would call on all our employers, particularly our volunteers whether they're in the Rural Fire Service, the emergency services or indeed our retained firefighters that rely on the generosity of their employers to give them time away from work".

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. At least one house was lost, a firefighter suffered a broken leg and 6,000 residents were evacuated from three communities in the state's southeast, police said.

Firefighters hold back a fire threatening a house at Tinonee near Taree.

Last night there were fears of a fatality at Rainbow Flat, with homes being checked by emergency services.

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Authorities in eastern Australia have warned of "catastrophic fire danger" in the coming days, as firefighters attempt to bring major bush fires under control.

The view down Crown St in Harrington, looking down towards Murray St, where there is a serious threat to property.

"Many of these fires won't be contained ahead of tomorrow's risky fire weather", the Rural Fire Service tweeted.

RFS Comissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says every resource and pair of boots on the ground will be needed to deal with Tuesday's catastrophic conditions.

Nineteen schools on the mid-north and north coast were forced to close yesterday, and motorists were stranded as the Pacific Highway was shut down in both directions between Taree and Bulahdelah and at Port Macquarie.

Meanwhile, high winds flung embers and burnt debris far ahead of the fires' front lines, depositing the unsafe detritus on the balconies and front yards of unsuspecting residents.

High temperatures, low humidity and strong winds forecast from the middle of the week are predicted to fuel blazes that authorities have warned they will be unable to contain ahead of time.

The bureau's State of the Climate 2018 report said climate change had led to an increase in extreme heat events and increased the severity of other natural disasters, such as drought.

On Wednesday, Morrison's climate-skeptic government announced a package of low-priced loans worth around 1 billion Australian dollars (US$690 million), created to help drought-stricken farmers struggling with the latest "big dry".

Winds are expected to pick up in the afternoon and no rain is forecast throughout the weekend.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said: "Our crews have been working hand-in-hand with the community" to tackle the bushfires that were spreading in "tinderbox-like conditions".

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