'Stay alert': millions of Australians brace for 'catastrophic' bushfires

'Stay alert': millions of Australians brace for 'catastrophic' bushfires

'Stay alert': millions of Australians brace for 'catastrophic' bushfires

The Australian Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said there was no indication of a catastrophic fire danger rating tomorrow.

Cooler conditions were expected to ease the danger in the state of New South Wales, where 83 fires were still burning, however changes in wind direction in the northeastern state of Queensland were expected to whip up flames there.

"This will only worsen throughout the afternoon as the weather conditions continue to deteriorate, and particularly those strong winds strengthen", he said.

"Conditions are now very unsafe and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing", Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said in a statement.

A firefighter suffered a fractured arm and ribs before the fire was rapidly contained with the aid of a jet dumping fire retardant and a helicopter dropping water, officials said.

Jason Watkins, manager of Yeppoon's Strand Hotel, offered firefighters a free "cold one" in appreciation of their efforts to control blazes in central Queensland.

Bushfires are a common and deadly threat in Australia's hot, dry summers, but the ferocity and early arrival of this year's outbreak has caught many by surprise.

Blazes have been spurred by extremely dry conditions after three years of drought in parts of NSW and Queensland, which many experts attribute to climate change.

Russell Crowe's neighbours have claimed their houses were left to burn while fire trucks passed by to save the Hollywood star's mansion.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand government has made an offer of firefighting assistance to Australia.

"I have to confess to being hugely relieved this morning that yesterday our unbelievable volunteers and emergency service personnel withstood the catastrophic conditions and did manage to save life and property", Berejiklian said. World Meteorological Organization spokeswoman Clare Nullis told reporters in Geneva that "catastrophic" was the top of the danger scale in Australia, and probably anywhere.

A statewide total fire ban remains in place. "We will not have all these fires contained and locked up for many, many weeks".

More than 1 million hectares (3,800 square miles) of forest and farmland had already burned across the state this fire season, more than three times the 280,000 hectares (1,080 square miles) that burned during all of last season.

"Unfortunately, what we need is rain. and there is certainly nothing in the forecast for the foreseeable future that's going to make any discernible difference to the conditions".

Some 50 homes were destroyed in NSW on Tuesday, but no deaths were reported as warning systems and evacuation plans ahead of what officials said was the greatest threat in at least a decade appeared to save lives.

"It was just chewing up everything", Karen Weston told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack sparked a heated debate on Monday when he accused climate activists, whom he called "woke capital city greenies", of politicising a tragedy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a vocal supporter of Australia's coal industry, has declined to answer questions about whether the current fires were a result of climate change.

Fitzsimmons said none of the injured firefighters had been seriously hurt.

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