Firies Facing “Uncharted Territory” As Record Number Of Emergency-Level Fires Burn

The NSW Fire Commissioner says firefighters are in “uncharted territory” as they battle a record number of emergency-level blazes across the state.

A total of 17 emergency warnings had been issued by 5pm on Friday, with more than 50 fires of the total 99 deemed to be out of control.

Dry conditions, high temperatures and heavy winds contributed to the volatile and dangerous conditions.

Speaking to the ABC, Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said more than 1,000 firefighters and 70 aircraft had been deployed to fight the blazes and “save as many people as possible”.

“We cannot emphasise enough the volatility and danger associated with all these fires,” he said.

Emergency warnings are currently in place for Tenterfield, Armidale, Clarence Valley, Port Macquarie, Nambucca, Kempsey and a number of Mid-Coast areas.

Most of the fires are spreading at twice the normal pace, Fitzsimmons said, with the energy produced by each fire influencing others nearby.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Rob Rogers said the situation was “unprecedented”.

“This is a really dangerous afternoon we have ahead in NSW. Please avoid fire affected areas,” he said.

Some people have been told it’s too late to leave, with roads considered unsafe to use and sections of the Pacific Highway and New England Highway closed.

Port Macquarie turned into the apocalypse, with residents sharing videos and photos of the red sky.

“It feels like a dystopian novel,” local Cherie Lynette told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

Kelly-ann Oosterbeek photos of the Bills Crossing Crowdy fire bearing down on Harrington, north of Sydney, were shared on Facebook more than 13,000 times.

“Please pray for the people of this town,” she said. “They are in imminent threat.”

In Queensland, one emergency warning is in place at Cooroibah, while several other fires are burning nearby.

It was only two months ago when firefighters were also using “unprecedented” to describe bushfires, when more than 80 blazes burned across Queensland in the worst start to the fire season on record.

Experts warned that without immediate and significant action on emissions, land management and fire preparedness, Australia would be facing a continuous fire season – one with no downtime for firefighters, and no safe time for controlled burns.

“That’s what we’re heading towards,” Professor Hilary Bambrick, head of the School of Public Health and Social Work at the Queensland University of Technology, said earlier this year.

“It actually makes preventative action very difficult.”

For updated information on the fires, keep an eye on the NSW RFS or the QLD RFS.